“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.”Shauna Niequist
An Illusion of Joy or an Infusion of Joy? Which are You in Line to Receive?
Does the above quote resonate with you the way it does me? It makes me want to break out into applause. I also want to break down and cry. I haven’t lived life this way. In my defense, some restraint and responsibility is respectable. But when I think of all that God has given and the many opportunities I’ve had to enjoy and explore and appreciate it, I know I’ve missed out. I’ve fallen for illusions of joy at the expense of the real thing.
The illusion of joy
Have you been down that path too? Norman Rockwell paintings, Hallmark movies, and holiday commercials would lead us to believe that if we could just recreate the experiences they portray, we’d find joy. If you haven’t read Part 1 of this post, I encourage you to do so. In it, I explained where I have gone awry and tried to help you see through the illusion where I couldn’t for so long.
The illusion of joy is mesmerizing. It draws us in and doesn’t reveal itself as false until we’re deeply invested. Here, in Part 2, I will explain how I’ve learned to experience the infusion of joy. My prayer for us is that we get it right this year!
An infusion of joy
Joy comes from within. People exude it. Anyone might glimpse joy, but to have it consistently, we need Jesus. Joy is one of the gifts promised to those who follow Him. In fact, we’re told to look for joy as an identifier of who His people are. An infusion of joy is automatic if we’re connected to the true source of it.
“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’”Psalm 126:2
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness”Galatians 5:22 (emphasis mine)
The thing is, when joy comes from within, from the Spirit of Jesus in our hearts, the only way to stop its flow is to disconnect from Him. Sometimes we wonder how we can know God’s will for us, and friend, this is one way.
When the resources of the Spirit are suddenly out of reach, we know we have stepped out of line. Things cannot steal our joy, but if they are wrong pursuits, our choice to strive towards them will. Thankfully, repentance realigns our connection.
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”Psalm 51:12
The world advertises joy but can never give it. The best we can get, outside of Jesus, is happiness. But it is fleeting and dependent on circumstances that are as fickle as we are. Happiness is a cheap knock-off of joy.
“Joy wells up and moves you from within, as present as the air.
Happiness happens to you from external stimulus, it comes and goes like the weather.”LeAura Alderson
The world would have us go all-in for a chance to receive an illusion of joy. But Jesus offers a free infusion and He’s already gone all-in to give it to us. Knowing that, we shouldn’t be susceptible to the trappings of this world.
“The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”Psalm 19:8
The joy Jesus gives will illuminate and infuse everything we do. Wouldn’t it be best to spend our time and effort on the preservation of our connection with Him? That way, His joy will be in abundant supply in, through, and bubbling right out of us!
“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”Russell M. Nelson
Let’s be about the infusion of joy! Let’s encourage each other, and ourselves, to follow Jesus with abandon and to rest in His perfection. He offers everything we need. He has everything we wish to give.
Of course, we want to honor the people we love as well. If there are relatives who want certain traditions followed a specific way, maybe they can pick up the slack on the piece that is important to them.
I would love to see people proudly posting photos of the stresses they chose to avoid in order to enable the infusion of joy. What would that look like for you? Christmas dinner on paper plates to reduce clean-up time? A tree only decorated from the middle up, above the reach of curious little hands? What could you do differently to make more time for joyful infusion?
“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”Maya Angelou
I realize there are people who truly find happiness in every scrap of perfection. If that is you, I see you. I respect and appreciate the way God made you. I am not trying to take anything away from you. But can I ask a favor? Please don’t place your high standards on someone whose joy is diminished by trying to live up to them. We are each gifted in different ways!
“Joy is always in process. It’s under construction. It is in constant approach, alive and well in the doing of what we’re fashioned to do.”Matthew McConaughey
Which are you in line to receive?
Now is the time. Are you ready to say goodbye to the illusion of joy? Are you committed to the infusion of real joy instead?
I have found some fun ways work less and laugh more in the holiday season. I will share them in some upcoming posts on this blog. If you’re interested, make sure to subscribe and follow along.
“If we can just let go and trust that things will work out the way they’re supposed to, without trying to control the outcome, then we can begin to enjoy the moment more fully. The joy of the freedom it brings becomes more pleasurable than the experience itself.”Goldie Hawn
Traditions are good. They are even important. But they shouldn’t be followed simply because they always have been. Our efforts should be put into the most meaningful pursuits. And if we want an infusion of joy this holiday season, we must cultivate our relationships with Jesus. That is how we tap into joy.
There will be a million other draws on our time, but without Jesus, the best we can find is an illusion of joy. Which are you in line to receive? Good news, it is never too late to switch lines!
“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. “John 15:10, 11 (emphasis mine)