Are you joyful?? Notice, I'm not asking are you happy. Everyone experiences happiness in their life. Good things happen to us = us being happy. It's a pretty simple equation and no matter how awful you feel right now, I think we both know that good things have happened to you and you have been happy before.
But joy is something different. It radiates even in the darkest of times. It is an optimism that is unwavering, a peace that conquers every anxiety.
I have been on a search for joy my entire life. Struggling with depression and anxiety as long as I can remember, the first thing that attracted me to the Church was the joy that others seemed to have. I craved that. I knew that they had something that I didn't and I wanted that joy more than anything.
Fast forward to today. I have been on a journey of simplicity, prayer, and discipline for nearly two months now. The craziest thing is that in the midst of the fasting and somewhat suffering I have found what I think may be an authentic joy.
This came as a surprise to me until I looked at the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. Each of them, the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation and the Finding of Jesus in the Temple, are surrounded with what I can only imagine was a sense of anxiety and fear of the unknown. Yet we can see clearly that in the midst of it all, holding on to joy and trusting that Christ is making something beautiful is most important.
So my challenge for us all, myself included, is to make space for joy in our lives. With Lent beginning on Wednesday, how can you make room for Christ to make something beautiful.
"Be perfect; just as your Father in Heaven is perfect." -Matthew 5:48