How do I live in the solid foundation of joy? We’re promised that joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit, which means it’s a gift given to us—something supernaturally infused into our being. With that being said, I think that for many of us it resides deep down in the soul, not making the light of day. St. Teresa of Calcutta said that “joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.” So how do we grow in the virtue of joy? Lisa Brenninkmeyer states she has discovered three things that help her in this regard:
#1: There is joy in obedience
The equation “joy = obedience” is one I was taught as a young child, and I am so grateful for it. There’s so much that we cannot control, but we can always choose how we respond to our circumstances. While we don’t know what God thinks about every subject, there is a tremendous amount that we do know in terms of how He wants us to react and behave. When we live in such a way that we can end our day knowing we did all we could to obey God, a deep sense of satisfaction results. We remain under the umbrella of God’s eternal protection, and this brings us an abiding joy, uncoupled from our circumstances.
#2: There is joy in managing expectations – One of the biggest barriers to joy is unmet expectations. Things don’t go as we hoped, and discouragement sets in. But what if the expectations were problematic to begin with? I have found that when I’m disappointed, it’s good to examine my expectations by asking myself the following questions:
What expectation did I have that’s not been met?
Was that expectation based on a promise of God that I can find in Scripture?
What should I do to change the expectation?
What can I learn from this that will affect my expectations in the future?
#3: There is joy in Jesus – Jesus is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324). He is joy itself. If we really believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist (John 6:51), if we really believe the He is present in the body of believers (Ephesians 1:22-23), if we really believe that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there (Matthew 18:20), then we need to really pause and consider what we are missing if we are not gathering for worship. We need Him. If you haven’t been able to go to Mass since the pandemic began (I know this varies from diocese to diocese), then you are going to feel that absence. He is not absent, but one of the primary ways He infuses us with joy is something that, for many, has been out of reach.
As I cling to and trust Jesus to fulfill His promises, this is the path where joy is found. This is my solid foundation.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness.Galatians 5:22
Thank you Lord for giving me a solid foundation of joy on which to stand in this ever-changing world.