Are Joy and Happiness Synonymous?
I used to think joy and happiness were synonymous.
I often use the word joy to express an elevated state of happiness or pleasure. I talk about how doing something I love brought me joy. For example, Christmas is a joyful season. As a human we are called to spread joy in the world! However, I challenge you in this thinking! JOY is actually a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is not something that can be attained on our own.
Joy=Precious and Good
Joy is an understanding that we possess something precious and good.
Have you ever read those stories about people in rural countries, who live in small homes, walk to poor schools, and struggle to make ends meet? In pictures, there is often joy on their faces. They have the ability to embrace life in the good and the bad…that is the virtue of joy! Joy is the capability of saying you are happy in your life even when there are unhappy circumstances.
Joy is a higher level of happiness brought about by pursuing goodness. Chocolate cake makes me happy; but health makes me joyful. Sleep brings me happiness; but rest brings me joy. To a great extent, marriage is a happy life; but family is a joyful life.
A Joyful Example
Joshua and I recently celebrated our two-year wedding anniversary. We have a one-year-old and a second baby due in three months. Together, we reflected on the many things we have had to give up. The only real trip we’ve even taken together was our honeymoon. We have never went camping together at Caprock Canyon, like we had always talked about. Getting to Europe has not happened…yet. Special overnight trips or weekends other than to visit family do not happen. Dancing, movies, sleep, and lazy weekends are a thing of the past! Instead, I began a very sick and difficult pregnancy three months into our marriage. Most of the things we thought we would be able to do with just “two” of is did not happen!
Being parents has meant giving up a lot of happiness. In return, we’ve received more joy in our lives than we ever imagined. We have reflected that any other combination of sperm and egg would have made a different baby. Thus, we only had one chance to get our little Peter! Undoubtedly, our Peter is precious goodness itself! As a result, our life is more joyful because we get to start and end every day with him! Finally we get to focus our lives on him, and make every sacrifice of simple happiness required to be his parents. What a gift!
Pursuing happiness leaves us empty, broken, and longing. Pursuing joy comes with a life of sacrifice…and real, true goodness.