The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything. –Julian of Norwich
Life is a paradoxical journey, embracing joy and sadness, light and darkness, birthing and dying, God in all and God within. This tension is held, sometimes with more trust than others. I find myself wondering in the tough times, is it really possible to still live with joy? Must I wait until “things get better” to feel the joy I long for?
In a previous post, I asked readers, what is joy? Specifically, I posed these questions: How do you define joy? What brings you the deepest joy? How do you cultivate joy? What is the source of joy? Is there a difference between childhood joy and grown-up joy? (Read the responses at The Source of All Our Joy!)
But recently I’ve been contemplating, can one feel joy even in the very tough times, during times of adversity, uncertainty, change, or emotional pain? Is it possible? And, if so, how does one DO this?
I know I have held both joy and sadness together. It is bittersweet. It is not the ego’s preferable way to experience joy; it feels like joy is being sabotaged. Of course, I want ALL joy. I know this desire is an extension of the either/or world that we live in. We prefer joy over sadness, not joy AND sadness. Despite my desires, I believe that life can be both/and, both joy and sadness. I believe (I have to believe) that we must learn to hold the two together.
But this I wonder: Is it possible when there is not something to feel joyful about to still live with joy? My faith tells me it is possible, but how? What do you think?
“There’s a ‘time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance’ (Eccles. 3:4). But what I want to tell you is that these times are connected. Mourning and dancing are part of the same movement of grace. Somehow, in the midst of your tears, a gift of life is given. Somehow, in the midst of your mourning, the first steps of the dance take place. The cries that well up from your losses belong to the song of praise. Those who cannot grieve cannot be joyful. Those who have not been sad cannot be glad. Quite often, right in the midst of your crying, your smile comes through your tears. And while you are in mourning, you already are working on the choreography of your dance. Your tears of grief have softened your spirit and opened up the possibility to say ‘thanks.’ You can claim your unique journey as God’s way to mold your heart and bring you joy.” -Henri Nouwen
Using the SoulCollage® image above, consider what your story is. There is a story behind everything–what looks like joy, may quite possibly hold more painful memories than one might realize. How can we find joy in growing older? What does joy look like to you? Please share in the comments! Or create your own SoulCollage® card.
Related blog post: A Story Behind Everything