“I hope you find joy in 2015!” That’s what someone said to me recently. In my immediate response I said, “Thanks!,” but then immediately began to question why that was said to me.
I tend to overthink things… but why had they said that to me? Was I someone they saw as needing joy? Did I look like I was down? Or was it just a casual wish of good things for the new year? But the more I thought about it… the more concerned I got.
“Finding joy” is such a strange concept really. For two reasons…
First is in defining the true idea of “finding” there is only 1 of 2 possibilities. You can find something by stumbling upon it by accident. For example, walking down the street and you find a $20 bill on the sidewalk. You weren’t looking for it – some poor sap must have dropped it and you were the lucky one to find it. OR you can search for something specific and find it. For example, my wife “loses” her cell phone on a daily basis. She searches for it and eventually (every time so far) she finds it.
In both cases of the definition of finding something – we end up with something in our possession that was previously outside of our possession – whether you were searching for it or not.
So the second strange aspect is that “finding joy” alludes to joy being something external. It will be outside circumstances or consequences that either bring us joy or keep us from it. It’s like joy is a thing.
In reality of course – joy is not external at all – it is not something to seek to be brought into my life… it is something to seek to be released from in my life! To let it out! To stop pressing it down! To stop seeking it all together and start expressing what I already have inside!
So at the risk of making dreaded New Year Resolutions… What if we committed to a few in regards to “Finding Joy?”
First… stop trying to find something you already have!
Second… stop blaming others for your lack of joy. No one is going to rob you of joy. There is no such thing as a joy-ectomy. You have an endless supply once you tap into it.
Third… stop making excuses. Is life tough at times? Understatement!!! Of course it is! More than you can bear? Sometimes. Unfair? Lots of times. Heartbreaking? Agonizing? Cruel? Scary? Yes. Yes. Yes and Yes! But sitting down in it and giving up never changed anything for anyone. Harsh? Yeah… but I am talking to me as much anyone else and today I need a kick in the pants in this regard!
Finally – stop trying to make attaining joy a consumeristic approach. It’s not something to attain. It’s something we ALREADY have and need to share. It’s something we produce. It’s something that exists internally and it’s amazing when we let it out. Find out what has kept you from doing this and I promise you your life-experience will change drastically for the better!
So if someone tells you they hope you find joy in the new year… tell them to rethink their phraseology because joy is not something you find… It’s something you have and share – and you hope they get good at sharing theirs like you’re going to share yours.
Jason Rehmel is the Lead Pastor at Eastside Christian Church on the east side of Cincinnati. If you are someone who has had a terrible experience(s) at a church or churches – stop by some weekend and give it one more shot with Eastside. Whether you have felt judged, or dismissed, or unwanted – wherever it has been – Eastside is different.