Finding Joy Again (continued)
But laughter slowly returned in baby steps, like physical therapy after a debilitating accident. I needed to be in a safe place to recover that part of my soul that was longing for just a small glimpse of the life I had before; one that included being able to laugh again.
During my "joy rehabilitation stage" I tried to read scripture that mentioned joy and laughter. And I read books about finding joy again. My roadblocks were words like "but for these believers, trials and persecution are occasions for Joy" (James 1:2 “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials.”) and "suffering brings Joy as believers are united with Christ in his suffering" (1 Peter 4:13-14). This made no sense to me at the time. But then I read The Theology of Joy - Living with Faith, Joy and Gratitude by George Thomas and a light bulb came on.
I was confusing joy with happiness. Thomas writes, “Joy is something that lasts. Happiness is something that is temporary. Joy springs from within and is an internal experience. Happiness is caused by external circumstances or experiences. Joy brings with it a feeling of contentment and confidence which can take us through a storm in our life-journey. Happiness is not present when we are in the midst of a storm; it just vanishes. Happiness is a blurred emotion. It can mean different things to many people. Joy is a conscious commitment to be happy, to have a sense of gratitude and contentment despite life’s challenges."
One of my favorite authors is Katie Stifter. In her book The Funny Thing About Grief, she shares her struggle to survive the sudden, tragic death of her husband and raise her three children. She creates a guide for others who are lost amidst their own grief and heartache, ultimately imparting that humor can only help and there can be joy, laughter and happiness after loss. I find comfort in her dedication page from this book, "May I continue to tell his story, keep his memory forever on my lips, in my heart, until our souls are reunited. Until that day comes, I will continue to live! Oh, and laugh!"
Blessings to you as you find your way to laughter and joy in the days ahead. What a beautiful grace from God when we do!
We walk this journey together,
Patti Stoetzner, A Widow's Way