The words above are from a children's book on Godly virtues that I was reading to my grandchildren. The story was about a little bunny wanting to be happy. I read it to them, but I was the one listening intently. I took it to the depths of me, and socked this sentence away, so I could really reflect on this simple little statement.
Joy comes from the inside out. I know that, I mean intellectually, I really know that. I have taught that in a ladies study. And I am in the process of putting the finishing touches on a 4 week Bible study about joy, titled, "Choosing Victory: Living victoriously, abundantly with joy in the midst of trials." I understand that happiness is situation based, meaning if this happens, then I will be happy. Happiness is outside in. Happiness is motivated by what gives us pleasure. I get it, that happiness is something we Americans in particular, are fond of pursuing. After all, it is right there in our Declaration of Independence,
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men were created equal, that they are empowered by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
The idea is that we pursue or chase after happiness, that it is a thing to be obtained from outside of one's self. Note it doesn't say, the right to be and stay happy, just the right to pursue it , to chase after it. And isn't that what we do? Our society and the media say in order to be happy, you must have certain things, and be a certain way. Be busier, do more, have more, become more. Oh, and be sure to post it on social media so others can see your happiness. But it is never enough, is it? That is because happiness is elusive, it likes to be chased, but doesn't reward for long once captured. It always leaves you wanting more.
I believe that children's book was so right. Joy is from the inside out. It is a state of being, not a state of having. It is not something people create by their own efforts. Joy is an emotional pattern, an abiding sense of contentment, and peace, not dependent on situations, people or circumstances. I understand the difference between happiness and joy. I know joy is what the Christian is to have, that deep abiding sense of joy, based not on externals, but on a right relationship with God.
So here is my confession. I know all that, I believe all that, but occasionally I don't 'feel' all that. Sometimes I allow the outside; the struggles, frustrations, injustices or people, to affect my inside, and attempt to rob me of joy, resolve and hope.
I read something recently that made me wonder if the reason I allow these 'joy robbing' moments is about where my hope is placed. I was raised to be a very strong, independent person, one who is confident in her self and abilities. It has taken me a lifetime to realign from trusting myself to trusting God. (Whew...still working on that.) Occasionally, the self trust rears its ugly head, and I trust me more than I trust Him. This is the quote I saw hanging in a store that made the gears in my mind start turning.
Hope is something that happens between take off and landing.
I do fine with the take off, but occasionally the turbulance gets to me. It makes me doubt the landing part, you know the outcome that I was trusting and hoping about. If I could just put all my hope in my God all the time, and not in me or any other person, then I think I would have the joy of a child, who says to her Daddy, "Catch me Dad", and then without thinking leaps into his arms. She has no doubt the outcome of her leap will be that her dad will catch her. It is one thing to say we trust God, but trust without the hope in an outcome, isn't much trust is it?
"These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full." John 15: 11
His joy IS inside us. We experience that joy whent it goes from the inside out as we trust and place our hope in Him and only Him. I think perhaps for the little girl in the picture, the joy was 'in the leap'. Here's hoping we can experience 'joy in the leap', as we learn to more fully trust and hope in our God.