I was having a conversation the other day with a friend of our family and we were discussing joy. Someone had recently told him that he did not seem to be a joyful person, so we were discussing just what it means to be joyful. I think it is easy to take the human-emotional perspective of joyful and imagine that you must be skipping along gleefully with a smile on your face hugging everyone you see. It seems easy to confuse the emotion of joy with the true peace and joy that resides within someone's soul. Now, granted, if they have that peace and joy in their soul, then most likely they will have that smile on their lips and maybe even a skip in their step.
So yesterday I was reading my "In Conversation with God" and one of the sections was about joy. The author says that joy "...springs from our effort to put aside personal worries and enter into a friendship with God. Joy is essential to the apostolate. Who will be attracted by a sad and negative critic or a gloomy complainer?...Christian joy has a solid foundation in the reality of divine filiation. This is the recognition that one is a son or daughter of God at all times."
They then include a quote from Chesterton which I thought was great. "It is not joy because we are in the right place, but because we are in the wrong place. We were lost, but Someone has found us and is leading us home. It is joy not because we are alright - we are not - but because Someone can put us right. Christian joy comes from facing up to the one really sad fact of life, which is sin; and countering it with a joyful fact that is even realer and stronger than sin: God's love and mercy."
It is really hard during those times where one bad thing after another happens and you can't seem to "let go and let God". That is when it is hard to even feel the joy, let alone project it to others. So often during those times I feel as if God is above me, looking down to see how I am doing with the most current "test" He is putting me through, instead of realizing that He is right besides me, walking through the trial with me. There is an extreme difference in those two view points; enough of a difference to make it hard to maintain that sense of joy.
No matter what is happening in our lives, we have two choices - to become a sad, negative, gloomy complainer, or to realize that God is in control and hang on to that joy and peace in our souls. As Blessed Jose Marie Escriva says, "The first step towards bringing others to the ways of Christ is for them to see you happy and serene, sure in your advance towards God."
God Bless! And may peace and joy reign in your soul today and always.