Happiness & Joy–The Search For True Joy When You Thought You’d Found It, Part 2



Joy & Happiness

They both occupy the same room in my heart. Both like the same things. They are best friends– but have never had a lot of time to spend together as sadness and sorrow came fast and it came strong, breaking up the party.

Sorrow leaves joy alone and confused as she wonders what she even looks like without happiness. She wonders if she can even exist without happiness as happiness feeds her, and all joy had to do was be along for the ride. Happiness, she thinks, is her best friend.

But, when happiness leaves,  joy has to figure out how to do everything. “Why can’t you stay happiness why can’t you just stay? Why does sorrow, sadness and loneliness eclipse you? Happiness, you are not the loyalist of them all that is for sure. You can’t be counted on but it sure is a good time when you are here.”

Hey, happiness do you remember that hot day in 1994 in Clearwater Florida? Do you remember how joy got to take a nap because you were on the top of your game that day?

I finally finished giving obligatory hugs and posing for pictures. I finally made my way to my brand new car and put that beautifully framed (and very expensive) piece of paper in the passengers seat. I put my seatbelt on, turned on the radio as loud as I could and sat at the light to turn left leaving Clearwater Christian college in the review mirror. I sped towards a new chapter.

I was elated; I was at the top of the world. I would side-glance every now and then and make sure I didn’t get that “sorry you didn’t pass organic chemistry” note from the dean’s office. CCC did that if it was just one class, letting students walk at graduation anyway.

But, nope it was real deal! I’d driven that drive hundreds of times over those four years but the Gulf of Mexico never looked more beautiful; the traffic never been so light and the songs on the radio and never been so good.

It had been a long four years filled with hard work both in and out of the classroom.

I was headed to the apartment I shared with a close friend of mine. We were all headed to Busch Gardens. That day was in a word, happy. As I write this my heart remembers the feeling and I realize that not many things after that day elicited that kind of happiness. But to be fair it was a pretty awesome day.

Those four years had both given and taken away. In the span of those years one of my heroes, my uncle died and somebody that should’ve been my hero but chose to hurt and abandoned me, my mom, also died.

I left the children’s home and moved on campus and that was an amazing experience but one prompted by Mom And Dad McGowan stepping away from the children’s home meaning I never got to see them and that was hard. Mom–especially was instrumental in the restoration of a broken kid. She helped transform that kid to a young adult who just successfully completed four years of college. And that restored adult was on her way to Jacksonville, armed with that fancy degree and star lit eyes. 

In this journey–the journey to find and/or understand true Joy, I was thinking of this day I graduated from college and the happiness of that day.

Not long after that  life really became bad for joy and me. She (joy) was there and was going to have to go at it alone and she did for a long time. Her fight between with sadness sorrow and grief spanned decades. She was a trooper but she is tired and out of resources. And it leaves me wondering, do I have true Joy?

What did the Nehemiah mean when he said “the Joy of the Lord is my strength”?

Is the Joy of the Lord different from joy in my heart that’s been fighting battles for decades?

This question leaves me searching and I find myself mesmerized by the book Philippians–ironically the book of Joy.

I’m learning some things about the Joy that Paul had and I’m excited to share them with you. Joy certainly loves hanging out with happiness but she is brightest and most effective when she meets sadness, loneliness and despair. She is in her perfect state when Joy and sorrow meet.

True Joy eclipses that framed, aging piece of paper hanging on the wall in my office and the happiness of that day.

Because true Joy shines through her enemies and She would rather defeat them than hang out in a room with happiness. And then every day is better than the last because Joy doesn’t need happiness to elicit that feeling I had that day so been years ago.

I’m excited about searching for, understanding, engulfing and living with Joy. Happiness can visit if she wants.




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