Playing the guitar is one thing that brings me joy. Despite my limited ability (because I have no rhythm) I feel my heart jump. I remember coming home from college for the summer after having just learned how to play guitar chords. I was excited to be able to play an instrument and I wanted to share it with others. This propelled me in offering to play the song "Seek Ye First" to my home congregation. That day I felt this incredible spirit moving with me because I just wanted to give what I had. So there I was up in front strumming my guitar and leading them through the song (something I would never have done before). I was about six words into the song, when I realized I had never played with other people singing before. I also distinctly recall remembering the small fact that I have no rhythm. It was apparent to me that people were lost in the song because my strumming was too fast and irregular. Despite this tremendous downturn I pushed on and finished the song. The amazing thing was any other time in my life I would have turned red, sat down and been ashamed of myself and my abilities. However in this instant I was joyful and satisfied. I knew my entire purpose was to share my joy with God and others, which I did. It didn't matter if I wasn't the best, its what I had to give in that time and space.
I think there is an incredible power within us if we share the things that bring us Joy. Joy is an attitude of the heart that empowers us to be genuinely happy and/or content with ourselves. When we share joy, we share our hearts with others. It makes us lighthearted, playful, and whole. So with the virtue of Joy being the focus this Advent week let's look closer at how joy impacts us, and the connection it has with our spirituality.
Get in Your Heart Space
Amanda Gore is the author of "Joy an Inside Job". The book explores how Joy impacts our lives in astounding ways. She believes the most important space on earth is in our heart. Please watch her entertaining TEDx presentation which talks about these three steps in creating more Joy in our World.
1. Stop Judging - Become Present
2. Drop to our Hearts - Place Intention
3. Scatter Joy with Zoots
Joy and Spirituality
Society is made up of people who are spiritually seeking the presence of God and/or a deeper connection with others and themselves. Joy is one of the many things we find along our search. Joy is a selfless emotion that connects with God and others. Rev. Christopher Benek authors an article about the difference between Joy and Happiness. He writes it's not about trying to be happy for ourselves but having Joy in our lives. In so doing this is a commitment to others. In other words the focus of having Joy is community. Joy is about the well being of others and when our focus is on others we open ourselves to experiencing Joy.
The word "Joy" can be found throughout the Bible. This is personified through singing, shouting, and rejoicing. However for some of us, we might be saying how do I find Joy if I am spiritually lost or dead? First I want to acknowledge you are not alone. Second I want to encourage you by saying Joy is possible even in our suffering.
I think the advice given above is where we start by find your heart space, joining a welcoming community, and asking yourself what do I have to give. We all have Joy inside of us that is waiting to be freed. Deepak Chopra shares his "8 Secrets to Free Your Spirit and Find Joy" which are realistic ways for us to begin experiencing Joy. Joy is freeing because it moves us away from our own self conscious thoughts that sometimes drown our spirits. In Joy we find the beauty of others and the connectedness of life.
This advent when we remember the coming of Christ let us remember the Joy he brings. Even now, he continues to want to bring that Joy to you. So allow his enduring Joy to reside in your heart because the message will free you. It is in Joy where we live for others by singing, shouting, and rejoicing until the morning comes.
Joy Through Laughing
I believe laughing is one of the best ways we can find joy in our lives. It instantly connects us with others and leaves us feeling light and happy. This Coca-Cola commercial is of a man laughing on a subway. As you watch it, I dare you to not laugh or smile. Just as with laughter, joy can be contagious.
Please find your heart space this week doing something you love. Allow Joy to fill it and if you are willing share it with someone else. Next week we look closer at our journey toward the Christmas Star.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.