Discovering Joy Inspite of Myself


I discovered  joy in the most unlikely place, in the midst of suffering.d4cd55c5067ea1fcac882af3c57da4d4

Years ago, living in poverty, united with a husband struggling with depression and surrounded by the clamour and demands of nine children, I was stretched to my limits of endurance. Lack of sleep was part of the reason that most of my inner walls of defense crumbled and hidden, inner demons tormented my dreams. I felt my emotional pain physically, as though a dagger had pierced my heart.

It was easy to picture myself as a victim.

It was easy to let go of my innate optimism and sink into moments of self-pity.

Yet, I did not want mere happiness. I knew that there is a world of difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is dependant on circumstances but I knew that it is possible to dwell in joy, even in the most dire of circumstances. To me happiness is a fickle, surface emotion that is fleeting at best, impossible to even touch when I am surrounded by difficulties. Yet it was precisely a life filled with difficulties and yes, I could even say suffering, which stripped away my inner stumbling blocks to joy.

It was a Catholic psychiatrist who taught me how to access the joy that is rooted deep within all of us, the joy that is ready to bubble up, instantaneously, if only we take a moment to connect with it. I learned that I can choose to live in my thoughts and my surface emotions which are dependant on what I am doing or seeing at that precise moment. However, if I take off my dung coloured glasses and look at reality, I can be grateful and somewhat happy and content. This is Cognitive Therapy which basically says that thoughts proceed emotions.

However, if I delve deeper, often my wounded self rises up and once again I can plunge into pain again.

At the snap of my fingers, I can look even deeper,

deeper than my thoughts,

deeper than my emotions,

deeper than my wounds and

touch my inner spirit,

my core self,

the self that is united to the eternal God.

Immediately joy, pure bliss bubbles up and I can laugh, even as tears dry on my face.

Why?

My spirit is made up of the very same stuff that God is made up of, so when I open my spirit to him, his joy and life and strength immediately flows into me.

I do not have to be perfect.

I do not earn this joy.

All that is needed is the humility to realize that I cannot survive on my own strength and then ask for his strength and his life giving joy.

Finding joy, living in joy is as easy and as difficult as that.

Blitz 2014

12 thoughts on “Discovering Joy Inspite of Myself

  1. What an encouraging article. I have also experienced suffering and it’s so true that when we go deeper God is there. I think it was suffering that made me not only open to asking Saints to pray for me, but I began to practice it. Suffering caused my faith to grow stronger.

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  2. Your writing speaks to me so much! While we are not in poverty, money is very tight, and it’s unbelievable how chronic sleep deprivation affects every aspect of my day! Thanks for the inspiration. Blessings.

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  3. There are different kinds of suffering, but once you have no joy, it can be the worst. Having Jesus as our friend brings joy and without Him we could not be complete. He has helped me through years of suffering, and every once in a while, joy leapt into my being. I could hardly understand that amidst such pain, I could feel joy. Very nice article, melanie. Blessings to you and family.

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  4. Melanie, you had a great psychiatrist. I like your distinction between surface emotions which are fleeting, and that inner core of peace and joy that “surpasseth all understanding.” Great post.

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