I was reflecting today on the difference between happiness and joy. I was asked recently how I could be so happy and chipper when things seem like crap. I don't wanna go into details now, that's not what this blog entry is about... But that question really made me think...
Am I actually happy? Most of the time I don't really feel happy... But I portray that I am, and keep most of my negative feelings to myself. Don't get me wrong, I do share how I feel even when it's negative... But the way I see it is that those who ask me how I feel don't necessarily cause the way I feel, so why should I take my negative emotions out on them? For example, if I'm feeling really irritated about something that happened at home, and then I get to work, I'll share that I'm ticked, but I try to be friendly and happy, cuz nobody at work caused me to be in that mood.
Is this what joy is? Choosing to be positive even though you feel negative? I know that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, so is this a fruit that is flourishing in me?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not perfect and sometime I do take things out of people who don't deserve it, and I'm sorry for that...
But getting back to what was asked of me... How am I so happy? I thought about it actually, I counted my blessings I guess you could say... I thought about even though my mom and I really don't get along most of the time, she still provides for me, she still wants what's best for me, she's taught me a lot through the years, and she loves me a whole heck of a lot! And I love her too, I really do!
I thought about my amazing friends, some older friends from the past, and some newer friends... Friends at school, at church, at work... Friends that have been here with me, guiding me, supporting me, laughing with me, crying with me, building me up, loving me... Wow... I know I've blogged about my friends many times already, but they are not to be taken for granted and I am always in awe at how much they have influenced me. To all of you, words really cannot express how much I love you and how much I am grateful for you! Thank you so much!
I thought about how privileged I am to have a job. Yeah, sometimes I whine and complain about it, but when I'm there working, I love it! I love cooking, I love the adrenaline rush of working rushes and getting food out in under 15 minutes, and knowing we can rely on each other as a team! I love the people I work with (most of them LOL!) I've made some awesome friends through work, friends that I love dearly!
I thought about church, and how I have the freedom to worship God like that! And my church family, where would I be without you guys? You've been mentors, confidants, buddies. I've learned so much from many of you, and I thank God for you!
I thought about school, and how I actually made it through! How many people in our world can't afford to even attend school at 12 years of age? That would be grade 7! So many kids around the world drop out at that point to apprentice under their parents... I've been so blessed to have a mom who has paid my tuition fees so that I didn't have to take out a student loan! I do have to pay her back, mind you, but interest free! Going to Booth College has been one of the greatest things in my life, because I have been challenged, and from that I have grown, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Not just from course material itself (though much of it did help), but from the experience itself. And not to mention the great friends I have met there! At Booth, I really began to open up to the world. I really began to come out of my comfortable recluse world and began to let people in, people I knew would not necessarily be physically in my life after college, especially talking about cadets (who are only here for two years).
These last two years especially, I have really opened up to the cadets. I remember the very first cadets who were here, I grew very close to one in particular, and it really hurt when they were commissioned. I wasn't sure if I wanted to do that again... But I did, because I've come to realise that the friendships made are so worth the separation that comes! Besides, there's always facebook... =P I've made quite a few close friends, people I've been able to talk about really personal stuff with... Even now, as some of them will be commissioned soon, I am okay with that (like I really have a choice LOL!) I'm not dreading them leaving, but rather I'm quite excited for them to get to their appointments!
Finally, I thought about God and what He has done in my life. I know how cliché that may sound, but it is so true! And I'm not just talking about the cross, though that's a huge part of it, but what's He's doing TODAY in me! He has sparked a passion in me, and He is placing everything I need right in front of me! At church this past Sunday, we had a time of short testimony, a prayer time where we were able to express to God why we love Him. I said that I love Him because He has never left me, and nothing has ever been more real to me! It is really sinking in just how much He loves me, because He has never EVER left me, even when I tried to leave Him... Even though I walked through some really dark and scary times, He has always been right there, even though I ignored Him. The "Footprints" poem has been very meaningful to me, because I have looked back and seen the times when I was done and just ready to give up, and God picked me up and carried me through. God, my humanness could never ever thank you enough for what you have done and what you continue to do for me... I am humbled and I stand in awe at Your power and grace. Who am I? I am Yours!
So why am I so happy? I wouldn't say that I am, I'd say I was joyful. And it's because of friends, because of God, because of love. There's a song called "Love Is a Beautiful Thing" by Group 1 Crew, and I LOVE this song!byge chorus goes, "love is a beautiful thing, it brings together people from every generation, love can heal the pain of a broken world, but it's gotta start with us, and all it takes is love." I truly believe this! Love is the first fruit of the Spirit named, but I remember a sermon series on the fruit, and it was suggested that perhaps the punctuation has been misinterpreted. Try this on for size: "the fruit of the Spirit is love: joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." all these things could be listed under love, because when you love first, all the rest come naturally!
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all thing, hopes all things, endures all things. LOVE NEVER ENDS!