Joy. I write a lot about joy because it’s such a deep spiritual emotion that far surpasses happiness as it is present even in grief. Joy is the ability to look beyond trials and suffering and still find gratitude, still find the good. The spirit of True Joy is life sustaining, it gives breath to the suffering and purpose to the hopeful. Joy, in its deepest sense gives life meaning. Finding True Joy in this Worldly Society really isn’t any harder than being thankful for the good in your life.
When beholders of joy are in a season of difficulty, they are not consumed by the struggle, but rather compelled by the possibilities. When we find ourselves in stressful situations, we have the opportunity to test our True Joy. Does it come from the mind, body and soul or is it of earthly things?
I remember one particularly amazing homily delivered by a priest whom I truly call a friend. His homily was entitled The God Hole. He said, and I paraphrase here, that we all have a God hole that cannot be filled by anything other than God Himself. Many people when they are feeling the void of the God hole try to fill it with all sorts of things. Some shop, some turn to alcohol, some to adrenaline charged activities, others to sex, some food and, others still, work. The ways in which we all try to fill this hole is as diverse as humankind.
Yeterday this homily came back to me as Dan was raging because I maxed out my Zulily Credit Card, a card I applied for while he was in Argentina last year. A card in his name without his knowledge or permission. Sorry, not sorry. And now, it’s maxxed out, for the second time. I get it. I’d be ticked off too. But, spending money is unfortunately how I try to fill that God Hole void when I’m at my weakest. Sometimes I’m lucky and I’m able to recognize my emotions before I turn to shopping, other times, I’m too far down that rabbit hole of self pity to tune into myself and identify who and what it is that I need.
I’m human, it happens, to all of us…some more than others, really. Our souls, for some reason, are the last thing we think of needing to care for, to nurture, to feed. But, this is exactly why the God Hole exists … so that we realize it’s time for a timeout, a spiritual overhaul. Our souls are literally crying out in vain, begging to commune with God.
I remember one particularly difficult and trying time in our lives when financially we were collapsing. We were devouring books about struggle and faith. I came upon a book by a very famous Christian author and upon reading it I devoured one seemingly powerful section. It stated that we have to practice the spirit of gratitude every day, lest God feel compelled to remind us of His existence. Now this may or may not be true, that God will send us crap if we forget about Him. In fact, I would wager to bet it’s not true, but it caused me to truly think about my life. And in particular, to think about the good in my life.
Gratitude conjurs True joy. I realized, not for the first time, that I was surrounded by blessings, by love and that I had more to be thankful for than to be fretful about. Here I was withe 7 healthy bouncy beautiful children and a husband who would move heaven and earth to make me happy. I literally had everything I had ever wanted. How could I let earthly things, imperfect things, overshadow the divine, the perfect? I vowed at that moment to ensure that not a day go by that I wouldn’t thank God for my husband and my children, for our health and safety, for our home, our food and our able bodies. Today, it’s the same. I never ever let a day go by without recalling the many gifts I am thankful for. This makes me joyous, the things I stress about are so small compared to what I have to be grateful for.
Now, as a society we are always taking about education, right? We all understand and value the concept of feeding our brains. It is something we all do on the daily. I daresay, not a day goes by without some form of education seeping its way into our lives. We go to school, we read the paper, magazines, online news, we google How To’s, we pick up books and even turn on the TV. The necessity of education, of constantly challening our minds is something we all value every day of our lives. And, rightfully so.
As a society we are over vigilant in our discussions about our bodies. There isn’t a person, young or old, who doesn’t understand the value of exercise and nourishing our bodies with nutrition. Health is a blessing that none of us take for granted.
But our souls? Few are in the practice of feeding their souls. Religious or not, most of us believe we have some form of soul and so it stands to reason that our souls need to be fueled, loved and cared for. The Bible mass, adoration, serving our family, meditation, prayer, cognizant gratitude … these are all great sources for filling our God Holes and nourishing our souls. These can keep us standing up, looking ahead, and framing our existence with positivity. Zulily credit card not-with-standing, I try to keep my soul joyful by taking care of it, nourishing it and pampering it. These treat our entirety, not just the symptoms …
As part of an exercise, I invite y’all to participate with me in determining the 10 things that make you truly happy, that cause you joy. Next, think about how you can ensure that at least 3 of these things will be accomplished each and every week.
We really need to start empowering ourselves to find True Joy and happiness in our daily lives. There seems to be so much discontent.
In honor of transparency, here are my top 10:
- Spending one on one time with my husband. Literally basking in his full attention.
- Spending fun time with my kids.
- Exercising and Achieving a sexy body … yes, even at 4-, something.
- Rising above stress, not giving any effs about stupid things.
- Getting Paid For My Writing…recognition
- Pampering Myself, good book, glass (bottle) of wine and a fire.
- Clean, company ready home. (I know)
- Doing things that take me outside my comfort zone.
- Travel … anywhere
- Snow, dumpings of snow, powder days galore with all the kids knowing where all their gear is = Heaven.
Bonus: Caring for my family, being the CEO of my home gives me more satisfaction than anything when I focus on being grateful.
I’d love it if you shared your lists with me in the comments below, or even via Private Message. We can help each other stay focused on the positive things we have going on in our lives, rather than putting all our efforts toward our issues. <3