If there is an issue or direction you need to discern in your life, one of the best measures is the amount of joy there is in what you love.
It may seem like an odd expression, but what we like — what brings entertainment, or excitement — does not necessarily bring us joy.
Joy brings a lasting feeling of “well-being.” Quick happiness is often just that: a quick fix, which vanishes fast.
Many are those who “love” their money, their clothes, their cars, their homes, their luxuries, their games, their “toys” — but such are more burdens than anything that brings gladness of heart.
You may love someone and not have joy in that love. If so, something has to be straightened out. The same is true with what you do, what you own, and where you are.
When you seek closeness to God and seek your true self, you are led to purity. To thine own self be true; if need be, turn your ship around; fix your marriage; distance from yourself hurts your self image. Be your true “you” whether that’s “smaller” or “bigger” than what people expect. Let God guide — and define — you.
Too often, what we do in life — what we strive to love — does not bring us joy because we are put into a box. We do what others have defined for us to do, or what we have defined based on the acceptance and judgment of others.
This is why there is a lack of joy: the fullness of joy comes when we are being who we are and are doing what God had in mind for us to do, what He appointed for our joy (and when we look for rainbows instead of clouds.)
Be who you are. We all have missions in life, and we lose our joy when we stray from those missions.
That mission may be “small”: We may have been meant to work with a shovel instead of a computer, as a janitor instead of a salesman, as a teacher instead of an author. God doesn’t want us to do big things to glorify ourselves, but to seek big things, often, in small acts.
We stray from these things, we strive beyond them, because we don’t think they are “important enough” in the eyes of others. We let them put us into a category of importance. We don’t realize that the prestige of the world counts for nothing. We don’t realize that great souls are placed at every “station of life,” and God has put everyone in roles through which they can serve Him and benefit others. An engineer — or a janitor — can be greater than a senator. Seek God. Strive for the big in the little. The Lord is revealed in what is small, and such is an ingredient of balance: to know who we are.
It’s when we stray from our true vocations that we lose joy even though we may have a job we ought to “love.”
Other times, we don’t reach “high” enough. We stay in the box that others have created for us and don’t expand our lives because we’re afraid of how others will react. This is a tragedy. We should never limit ourselves based on the judgments — or expectations — of others!
We may want to move to a location of our dreams, where our spirits belong, or seek a job that is our true vocation or start a new hobby, and we should do so — we should do so as long as it is God’s Will and even when others try to keep us down. Don’t define yourself by the notions of others! When we move out of our “box” — and into the realm of joy — others will be activated into jealousy or feel threatened because they are challenged to follow. They will be insecure because they are afraid we will change. We will have left their comfort zone. We may even estrange members of our family!
If it has been done in prayer, however, and grants peace in that prayer, we should go for it; we should seek out the full extent of our missions; we should realize our dreams (however big or “small” those dreams seem). We should be who we are in the essence of goodness.
Don’t let others drag you down. Don’t make decisions based on guilt. Let God decide what your life is supposed to be, allow His epiphany, and you will find joy in everything.