Experiencing Joy

Joy. I only usually feel it when I am present in the moment – experiencing something good and allowing myself to really feel it. Where I live in Maryland, Easter is usually a time for joy because of the season of spring and all it brings…flowers blooming, the trees turning green, kids playing outside, fresh air and warm sunshine. Yet, why do I wait for Easter and spring to feel joy?

Perhaps it’s not that I’m waiting so much as being reminded in this season…that the dead of winter is over, that new life is beginning again, that Jesus was resurrected. But I know I can feel joy any time I can remind myself to feel it – by being grateful for what I have, who I am and Whose I am…that God loves me by giving me so many gifts – family and friends who love me, work I enjoy, a purpose in life. The birds and flowers are just the icing on the cake.

Jesus said the Kingdom is at hand right here and now. “When asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God will not come with observable signs. Nor will people say, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘There it is.’ For you see, the kingdom of God is in your midst’.” (Luke 17:20-21) I believe this means we can experience the Kingdom of God today – through experiencing joy. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17)

Joy also takes time. Time to be still and reflect on God’s goodness, to be fully present, to actually take the time to experience it. For me it’s when I stop for a minute and BE with my husband, my children, my grandchildren or even when I’m by myself – to BE with myself and God. Not just for the Kodak moment but for real. It’s not only when I do the things I love but when I love the things I do…dancing, swimming in the ocean, walking on the beach, soaking in the sun, reading a good book, gazing at the stars and moon. It can be as simple as waking to a new day (although usually not until I’ve had my first cup of coffee) or laying my head down at night knowing I did my best that day – and it can be at any moment in between. Of course it’s not sustainable at all moments. We are only human and need to feel all of the emotions humans feel.

I heard it said on a radio talk show today that Jesus came in human form to experience all of our limitations so that He could fully relate to us…and we could fully relate to Him. We don’t see Jesus feeling joy all the time. At times He even experienced grief, sadness, loneliness, despair. But he did talk about feeling joy too…and of course gave us a simple formula for feeling it: ” If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Feeling God’s love is the ultimate joy, and to feel it we have to keep His commands which start with this: To love Him with all of our heart, mind and soul and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We have to love God, love ourselves, and love others. It only makes sense that love and joy are reciprocal then.

What do you love about yourself? What do you love to do? Who do you love to be with? If you can answer these questions there’s a good chance you are feeling joy every once in while if you allow yourself to feel it.

God is Love. And loving God brings joy. I pray all of us allow ourselves to experience a few moments of joy today!

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Michele Chynoweth

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