Friday, March 16, 2012

Where Does Joy Come From?

As a child I use to sing a song with the words:
I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart
Down in my heart
Down in my heart
I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart
Down in my heart to stay

There have been times as I've struggled with chronic pain that I've wondered where that joy was.  The problem, however, has not been one with joy but with extreme myopia (near-sightedness).  Pain is so ever present that it is easy to see only that - to allow it to cast a shadow over all that I do and am.  However, just like my hand can totally obscure my vision if I hold it up close to my eyes, so pain can obscure my vision if I hold it too close in my mind.

When I stop holding the pain so close, I am able to see all the things that exist which can provide joy.
 - I look at the picture of a friend's smiling baby.
 - I watch the dogs play tug of war nose to nose with a three inch ball.   
- I eat lunch with my dad who was victorious over his battle with cancer last year. 
- I have the opportunity to spend the day with a one year old for whom life is endlessly fascinating.
 - I go through photo albums and look at the pictures of friends and family and call to mind all the wonderful memories that go along with them.  
- I see the beautiful purple tulips which have bloomed in a neighbor's yard 
- I listen to the words of some of my favorite songs. 
- I look at "treasures" in my home which evoke powerful memories of love. 
- I spend time with my niece and nephew, and my heart swells up with the joy of being their aunt.
- I read God's word and am reminded of His unfailing love for me  - I think about all my dear friends and how much they mean to me.
- I treasure every time I've heard the words "I love you," "I'm praying for you," and "I'm here for you.  

When I stop holding pain so close that I can't see anything else, I am absolutely bombarded by the sheer magnitude of opportunities for joy.  Joy isn't found in circumstances; it's found in my response to circumstances.  For now, there is little I can do to change my migraines, but there is a lot I can do to change my state of mind.  It is all a matter of where I choose to put my focus.  And for today, at least, I choose joy.

I'll leave you with the words of one of my favorite Kathy Trocolli songs:

A purple sky to close the day 
I wade the surf where dolphins play 
The taste of salt, the dance of waves 
And my soul wells up with hallelujahs 

A lightning flash, my pounding heart 
A breaching whale, a shooting star 
Give testimony that You are 
And my soul wells up with hallelujahs 

Oh praise Him all His mighty works 
There is no language where you can't be heard 
Your song goes out to all the earth 
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah 

O cratered moon and the sparrow's wings 
O thunder's boom and Saturn's rings 
Unveil our Father as we sing 
And my soul wells up with hallelujahs 

The pulse of life within my wrist 
A fallen snow, a rising mist 
There is no higher praise than this 
And my soul wells up 
Oh my soul wells up 
Yes my soul wells up with hallelujahs 

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