Seeking Joy

What do you think of when you hear these words:

Happiness?

Pleasure?

Joy?

Are they the same? Do they conjure the same thoughts, the same feelings, the same needs? Of these three, which would you most desire in your life?

The great writer and, dare I say, theologian, C.S. Lewis wrote time and time again about joy. Even his memoir is titled, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life. In it, he writes,

“Joy must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again … I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power and Pleasure often is.”

Just a couple weeks back, I wrote of the joy of those who work at Castel Gandolfo. I was amazed not by their happiness, not by their pleasure at being able to guide and assist, but by their sheer joy, a palpable exuding of something we simply cannot sustain here on earth.

How ironic that I now find myself immersed in the sentiment of joy once again as I read the delightful novel, Becoming Mrs. Lewis. While the story is meant to tell the love story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis, what I find the most intriguing are the many ways Lewis finds and relishes those moments of joy.

And it makes me wonder…

Do I truly stop and savor moments of joy?? 

Do I live each day, seeking those moments, those fleeting times we experience something more profound than happiness, more desirable than pleasure, yet more elusive than a ray of sun on a cloudy day?

We are all seeking joy. It is the thing which man and woman most desire, whether they know it or not. But it’s not easily found. Often mistaken for other emotions, joy cannot be captured. It cannot be contained. It cannot be sustained in this life. We reach for it, long for it, pray for it because it is the thing which our souls most desire. St Peter describes it as “inexpressible and glorious…the result of your faith [felt by] the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9).

There are but a few moments I can recall when I truly felt real, tangible, unbridled, and unmistakeable joy:

The day I married Ken.

The births of our three daughters.

The moment I felt the meeting of hearts and minds on my first trip to the Holy Land.
Joy - sign of God.jpg
There is a lot of truth in the saying, “crying tears of joy.” Perhaps we shed “happy tears” now and then, but there is a difference that I’m sure you can recognize. The difference lies not in how you feel in your head, but in your heart. Those rare moments when you can honestly say that your soul is bursting with so much joy that tears fall impulsively and beyond control. It’s as if your heart is so full of love, happiness, peace, and all things good that only one word can describe it–JOY. That feeling that your heart is going to leap from your chest in a burst of “inexpressible and glorious” elation.

There have been other, less profound times when I felt that song of joy in a quick beat of my heart:

Seeing true happiness in someone whom I know has suffered.

Holding a newborn baby for the first time.

Welcoming and being welcomed by a friend you haven’t seen in a long time, making you want to leap into their arms.

Witnessing the sunrise or sunset and recognizing it as a gift from God–a glimpse of the everlasting joy that awaits. 

Recognizing those moments we bring joy to others with our words and actions.

Those are the moments we must remind ourselves to seek and to share. Rejoice in and proclaim that joy when you experience it. When you feel that tug of your heart, that leap of your soul, remember it, cherish it, hold fast to it with the knowledge that it is but a foreshadowing. Pray for the day you feel never-ending joy, the day promised when “everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isaiah 35:10).

Joy - St Teresa.jpg

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What I was writing about a year ago this week: Standing Straight and Reaching New Heights.

Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture MeWhispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, is based, in part, on her family history and is garnering many five star reviews.

Book Three of the Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, is now available! Order your copy today of the “book that was a joy to read!”- Ann on GoodReads.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019).

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