Where to Find Joy and Happiness

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.   Psalm 4:7

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Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. I know this. Yet, how often do I try to grow joy on some other kind of vine?

Apples grow on apple trees. In spring they emerge as snowy-pink blossoms covering the tree’s branches. Perfumed air permeates the orchard.

Try growing an apple on a Blue Spruce. No matter how hard you work at it, how faithfully you water, what apple formulated fertilizer you allow the tree to feast upon, even if you plant your pine tree in the perfect orchard, it will never produce a single apple. Obviously, ridiculous.

Happiness doesn’t grow on if-only trees

How often do I try to grow joy in the same absurd way? Most everyone I know, including myself, tries it all the time. The single lonely woman thinks, “If only I had a husband”. The married lonely woman thinks, “If only my husband would pay more attention to me, love me the way I need to be loved, help me …” or “If only I had a different, more exciting, stronger, more … husband, like that guy.” If only I had more money. If only I could travel. If only I had a better job. If only I didn’t have to have a job. If only I had a family. If only my family appreciated me. If only I wasn’t tied down with my family.  If only I had the kind of life my friend has. But joy and happiness don’t grow on if-only trees. Shortly after getting what we long for, the happiness fades and we turn to a new if-only.

Focusing my attention on an idol, an “if only”, an “I must have” can block the flow of joy so thoroughly that I am unable to reach it at all, even though the Spirit hasn’t left me.

Not wanting isn’t the same as being happy

Some of us turn to deadening desires instead. We might sigh heavily and decide to quit wanting. That sounds good, godly even. We use aids to help us deaden.  Chocolate and ice cream are favorite drugs of choice. Some might turn to busyness, television, shopping, an absorbing hobby, or even duty. But absence of longing does not create the presence of joy.

Joy is a rare fruit. It grows exclusively from God’s Spirit planted in the soil of a redeemed soul.

For me, it goes like this. Life gets tough somehow. I feel needy and begin demanding. I usually demand a brew of appreciation, attention, and affection. When the person whose job it is to meet my needs doesn’t, an attack of self-pitying anger ensues. My mood spirals downhill. I compulsively eat chocolate, escape into a book, and withdraw from my family. I’m not feeling the joy. My demanding spirit blocks my joy artery.

Joy epiphany:

 

No external force can inject joy. Joy comes from the inside out.

It comes from God’s Spirit flowing through me.

The only option, I remember later, is to release all demands into the hands of my Heavenly Father who knows both what I want and what I really need before I ask. When I repent of my pride and quit looking for joy from an outside source, but instead look to the Spirit of God planted within me, the fountain miraculously unclogs and joy flows again.

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