I think that my relationship with the Lord since day one can be summed up as “searching for joy”. Before I found Jesus, my life was almost entirely void of happiness. There definitely was not any joy in my life. There were not many things that I thought could bring me joy. I guess you could say I was pretty hopeless I used to think that joy and happiness were synonymous, but as I have navigated life with the Lord I have realized that they are not at all the same. Happiness is situationally dependent. You can find happiness rather easily in the world. Happiness comes and goes; it fades in and out much like the tides in the ocean. It is evident when you are happy by the smile on your face or the feelings inside you.
Joy is nothing like happiness. It has deep roots that reach into the depths of your soul. Joy is consistent on the mountaintops and in the lowest points of the valleys. It is here to stay. You cannot get the same joy that comes from knowing the Lord in any other way. There is no person, no situation, and no place that can provide the same results as a relationship with the Creator of the universe. Joy can be seen in your day to day life. It shows itself in your actions and in your posture. Joy radiates out of you, it is accompanied with peace and contentment.
I did not think I deserved to feel joy. Before the Lord found me, I thought that I was way too far gone to feel anything remotely close to joy. Wow was I wrong. Jesus worked his way into my heart and he began to break down the barriers I had built. He started to show me that I did not have to be alone. He taught me that it is okay to trust and to let people into my life. Jesus showed me that I am worthy of being loved and through His love, I learned to love myself.
When I first met Jesus I thought that I knew joy. Maybe I did, but the peace and the joy that have overtaken my life today are on a completely different scale compared to when I first felt that little glimmer of joy in my soul. The joy that I have now became evident when I surrendered everything that society told me that I needed. I let go of the earthly idols I had become dependent on.
When I made the decision to open my fists and live with my hands wide open to give and receive everything that I had in the name of the Lord, I was met with complete and total peace. I was content for the first time in forever and I did not have anything I was comfortable with. Surrender showed me the joy that I know now and that feeling that is rooted deep into my soul has not gone away, it never will.
The joy I found when I committed to a life for Jesus started a fire within me. The flame is bright some days and other days the world tries to blow it out. That fire might dim but it will never be blown out. Each time the light in my soul gets a little smaller, the Lord finds a way to remind me who He is and what I am created for. That reminder has an effect similar to gasoline and it becomes impossible to contain the fire. Even when life is hard and it seems like every step I take sends me three steps back I find myself still joyous.
I have days when I struggle and I do not know why the world is the way that it is but on those dark days I still have joy in my soul. Those joy roots are so deep within me now that they will not ever be pulled away. Joy is not about being happy all the time, it is trusting the Lord and knowing that He is good when nothing else feels good. It is knowing that even when the world is against you, God is for you. And when God is on my side, nothing can take my fire away.