A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how hope comes as a package deal and it ain’t always what you want… the underwear one. I know. Cheesy. But true. Hope is for the hard times.
But I’ve been thinking some more and I realized that hope also . . . I don’t think . . . prove me wrong (I don’t know why you’d want to?) has some PRETTY AMAZING TRAVELING COMPANIONS.
One of them, I think, is JOY.
Can you separate joy from hope?
Joy has been in my mind and I’ve been mulling it over.
Hope and Joy are different, but I THINK they are inseparable. And if the world is short on HOPE, it’s also short on JOY.
Think back over your life. All the best memories. At the very core, isn’t it joy?
Google broke down the difference between joy and happiness for me:
Happiness is an emotion in which one experiences feelings ranging from contentment and satisfaction to bliss and intense pleasure. Joy is a stronger, less common feeling than happiness. Witnessing or achieving selflessness to the point of personal sacrifice frequently triggers this emotion. (from diffen.com)
Did you see that part at the end? Joy often comes as a result of selflessness or personal sacrifice.
I really really really really really . . . REAAAALLY wish that bad things, hard things, tragedies, all that stuff, I wish they NEVER happened. I work SO hard in my life to create circumstances that work out well and it really challenges me to my core when I can’t make things “work out.”
I think it might be a buddhist teaching - but when something is difficult or a person is hard to deal with, they say to let it be your teacher. Having two kids with autism is SO hard for me because regardless of how hard I work, how hard the kids work, how many things we overcome, every day will still be MARKED by huge gaps, misunderstandings, moments where I WISH for connection, but instead I will get yelled at, accused, or mostly, just ignored. These difficult moments reveal my heart and show me how rigid and demanding and self centered I still am. They show me how inflexible I am and how much I value my own idea of perfection . . . and they show me how much I just really like to control everything. (Just an FYI- the rest of life reveals my failings as well, just not as quickly and obviously. I can hide and “cope” in other areas more easily).
Sometimes I’m open and I let the difficulties of autism be my teacher. I think that JOY is on the other side of letting go of control and the idea that it should all be perfect.
So I wonder - if HOPE is what we hold on to while things are hard, do you think that JOY is what we experience at the end - when we have moments of breakthrough, moments of letting go.
Are you short on JOY? My guess is we could all use some more than we’re currently operating on.
There aren’t “THREE STEPS TO HAVING MORE JOY!” or “7 Life hacks to make your days filled with joy.” I don’t think we can control things like that. Which . . . is kind of the perfect segway to say . . . control. I think control and joy are mortal enemies. At least that’s how it’s playing out in my life.
Wherever I see anger and frustration in my life, I also see control. Something is not happening the way I want it to and I am bent on MAKING IT SO. I think it’s easier to see in others- but just like HOPE has to be open handed (remember that one?) . . . JOY shows up inside us on our journeys in moments where we are able to NOT be at the center of everything, controlling things, calling the shots, making things happen EXACTLY the way we envisioned.
Simple example. Today I was driving with my son to pick up some drums that we bought on Facebook Marketplace. I’m using google maps to tell me where to go, and we are going to be 10 minutes late. I am embarrassed. I hate being wrong. I hate being IN the wrong. An inconvenience. What if the lady gets mad. What if she’s like, “this item was in high demand and you said 6:30 pm and it’s 6:41 and you’re not here!” And I’m driving and I feel my traps tighten and my shoulders go up. I breathe in tight and I’m feeling nervous about traffic, frustrated with vehicles that are going slow, and angry at my son for asking me the same question 13 times in a row.
All the joy was gone. This thing I was doing for my son was becoming a chore that was beating me up from the inside out.
This happens to me EVERY DAY, in big moments and small ones. MULTIPLE TIMES.
But I’m onto me. So I was like, “You don’t know this lady. She might not be angry at you for being 10 minutes late. Even if she is, what she thinks about you doesn’t change who you are. Being 10 minutes late isn’t a moral issue. You don’t need a defense, you don’t need a story to tell her about why. . . what matters is being here, in the van, enjoying time together. You are getting drums for your kid.”
And I was able to relax. Instead of being all grumpy and snappy to my son, I was able to be calm when he asked the same question 75 more times on the rest of our drive. It was 1 hour each way. The lady was great. The drive was great. The drums were great and when I had finished setting up the drum kit and my son started playing, he smiled, I smiled . . . and there was JOY between the two of us.
Really, the facts of a circumstance don’t tell half the story. The stuff that goes on inside of us, that’s where the life is.
Is anything killing your joy? Yeah, it could be part circumstance, but is there anything you could let go of (for me . . . it’s control) in order to have more of your HOPES ending up in JOY?
I’m on the journey with you.
Talk soon, Baboon,