(NOTE: This post contains a part at the end about my faith life)

Through these last couple of posts, I have attempted to answer the question, “What do we do with this time?” I started with the reality of how big our need is to give and receive right now. Then, I moved on to the opportunity to settle into new or deepened daily rhythms and how those can help us navigate all the feelings we are feeling right now. Last week, I did my best to walk you into the beauty of Stillness, which used to be a chore for me and has now become one of my deepest gratitudes.

Today, I am going to attempt to offer you the last on the list…


To be honest, I have saved it for last because I find it difficult to describe in writing. I could describe it to you with so much more beauty and connection if I could sit with you on my ginormous comfy couch, hear your story, and gently point out the Joy even if it was in the middle of true hard things. However, we can’t currently do that, and I know that Joy is vital. It is all of the time and it feels more so now.

I like to point out that Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is a more of a feeling that comes and goes. It is fun while it is here but doesn’t have the depth and intentionality of Joy. In the therapy world, Joy is typically defined as elation or hope. I don’t think those are very good definitions. I define Joy as a state of being through choices that we consistently make. That is is I love this Henri Nouwen quote:

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose Joy and keep choosing it every day. ~ Henri Nouwen

Joy is the offering of gratitude in the middle of all circumstances. It is the choice to see beauty and give thanks for it, even when our circumstances are truly heartbreaking. What we receive in those small choices to cultivate and practice Joy, is more of it in return. It multiplies if we will give it space to.

I want you all to know that, when I write of Joy, I feel fear that you all will think I am not aware of all the impossible and hard that is occurring right now. I promise that, to the best of my ability, I am not ignoring that. And, this post could be too much for you today. Joy may need to be for another time. I respect where you are. Come back to it when you can. Stillness may be what you need. Grieving and small pieces of gratitude may be enough for now. Sit with your own heart. What do you need today? If you do feel the nudge to sit with the possibility of choosing Joy, keep reading. If not, come back another day.

If Joy is a choice, and something we need to nurture, then how do we do that? We do it through the little things. Those daily rhythms. The moments of Stillness. The moments of laughter. The giving of ourselves in healthy, boundaried and beautiful ways to those around us. Some examples might be:

  • Stopping to hear the birds sing and being grateful for their song

  • Watching the rain fall and being grateful for the blooms that will come of it

  • Noticing all the beauty of Spring on your walks and being grateful that Spring will come in other ways too

  • The laughter of a loved one that comes from toes to mouth

  • Silliness of those who beautifully keep us above the rushing water

  • Naps

  • Baths

  • The realization that you haven’t opened your make up bag in weeks

  • The joy of pants without buttons

  • Warm meals at a table (solo, together, or even if your loved ones are on Zoom)

  • Drives in the car to absolutely nowhere

  • Warm coffee with just the perfect amount of honey and frothed milk, or if you are my insane husband, black

  • That garden that you love that shows how you still understand the rhythms of the land, or the small one you are just starting to see if you can

  • Deliveries of toilet paper and soap

  • Fresh produce at the grocery store

  • Warm water coming out of your faucet

  • Aid from friends and even strangers when you don’t have what you need

  • Podcasts and books that feed your soul

  • Music that reminds you to sing and dance

  • A relationship that is mending

  • A celebration of a sobriety birthday

  • The realization that we are only a short time away from lightning bugs appearing

This list is short in comparison to the places we can see and the ways we can choose Joy. It is, nevertheless, a good list. Feel free to send me yours and I will makes a post of those too.

I want to add one more thing for today. It is a bit of a moment to those who share my faith. Joy, for me, is tethered to my relationship with God. Verses about Joy move through my brain daily. I feel encouraged by men and women who have struggled and written on Joy. Those writings can be hundreds to thousands of years old and they connect me with those honest stories through time and space. I see Joy as a constant way to stay in contact with God and a simultaneous gift. And, though I feel solid in it right now, I want you to know that I have had many seasons were Joy felt elusive and my questions were too numerous to choose it. I have heard so many hearts this week struggle with Joy right now in relationship with God. I do not diminish that struggle. If you would allow me, however, I would like to gently encourage you to take that struggle to God. I truly believe that is a courageous and important choice. And, if you can, find those books, stories, verses that remind you that thousands have walked this path. You are not alone.

Our souls need Joy. Honest, struggle filled, hard won Joy. I hope you both choose Joy and receive the gift of Joy today, or sometime soon. Please feel invited to send me lists of how you are finding and receiving Joy right now. I would love to share them.