Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Joy to the World?

My pastor, everyone calls him Barry, is known for his sermons that deliver profound truth in a friendly strait forward manner. This past Sunday he dove into one of the more confounding aspects of faith—the call to be Joyful.
Joy and happiness aren't the same thing. Happiness depends on circumstances; the size of my bank account; a tender kiss; a perfectly done pot roast. Joy flows endlessly from my faith. Joy is a reflection of God in my life; not the challenges of living from day to day.
So, his sermon was full of practical ideas to experience Joy: focus on what is good; do things for others; spend time with God every day; make a list of what I am grateful for. I was inspired and ready to make every effort to choose joy and not rate my life on a 'happiness' scale.
This lasted about three hours.
Whether it was my trip to the hot springs the day before or just generally doing more with my son or just MS rearing its ugly head; by mid afternoon I had to acknowledge that an exacerbation was happening. I am weaker all over, my pain level has skyrocketed; and I found myself curled up in bed with Joy the farthest thing from my mind.
It is Tuesday afternoon and I find that I can finally take a breath. For me, there is always an adjustment period after my symptoms worsen or change. Will this new symptom be permanent? Can I endure the pain and not be such a witch? How far will this slump take me down. The uncertainty of life with MS is putting on a full-scale dress rehearsal and I am not impressed with its efforts.
So joy versus happiness. Looking back over these past few days I can see that my faith life is there, a steady undercurrent to the craziness. 
I have to remind myself that Joy doesn't mean I have to be a faky, happy, Chatty Kathy doll. That will never be who I am. I am, at times, snarky, hopeless, and bereft. I also know euphoria; peace; and contentment. Under it all, like a subterranean river, flows Joy.


 The LORD has done great things for us, 
       and we are filled with joy.

Psalm 126:3
and, thank you to Barry for 13 years of challenging me
to look at life through a different paradigm

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