Sunday, September 18, 2011


“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!
Down in my heart!
Down in my heart!
I have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!
Down in my heart to stay!”

How utterly presumptuous.  When singing that song as a kid I had no idea what it meant, not to mention the gravity of its connotations.  After having numerous conversations with my friends and family about the nature and quality of joy, I’m convinced that we’ve been tricked into settling for a well disguised nostrum.  The very next line of that song is “and I’m so happy…”

Oh how we’ve been tricked.

There are so many ways I can achieve happiness, and most of them are morally neutral things like money, sex, food, hobbies, and almost anything else you can think of before it’s pulled into perversion.  But it’s these things that our conscious and unconscious minds attribute joy to.  Am I feeling depressed?  Eat some chocolate.  Feeling down?  Listen to uplifting Christian music (the definition of such can vary according to your cultural background and personal taste.)  Now joy.  Non-Christians will accuse me of trying to suppress my happiness when I don’t do things that are obviously fabulous and fun.  Christians will tell me I’m suppressing my joy when I do things that are against the religious code.  Damned if I do, damned if I don’t. 

The problem I’ve noticed is that both “Christians” and non-Christians fill their lives with all sorts of the same worthless elixirs, and suddenly it’s a supreme court battle over who is right.  “Gay marriage is abominable, and the fools don’t realize they’re miserable!”  But then you have the happily married gay couple…and what do you do?  Even if they divorce in two years, they still found happiness for a brief moment.  The same can be said of Christian marriages that are over almost before they begin, and suddenly pastors are raving in the pulpit about how we need to stay together to show the homosexuals that our religious zeal is worth the misery.  So again, where is the joy?  And does it equal happiness?

Talk to almost any Christian, and they’ll tell you that happiness doesn’t equal joy, but I get the feeling they’re repeating rhetoric given them by others.  I say this because, even in my own life, I find that I’ll latch onto euphoria and call it joy, simply because…well what else could it be?  Certainly not a chemical reaction in my brain releasing endorphins and delaying depression.

I recently discussed the objectively complex issue of sex with someone who doesn’t know God…it was painful.  How easy is it to believe that God is mistaken when He says that sexual relationships should remain monogamous?  Especially if both parties are consenting?  It was especially hard realizing that I can never “sell” God.  I can’t convince people He’s worth it because of [fill in the blank.]  I only know. 

God is the eternal supernova of true happiness.  He is a flame that needs no fuel.  He is glorious in His ability to know the astronomically colossal as well as the mundane.  He is.  I wish there was some way I could contain his worth in words, but I can’t, and this is the reason I write stories.  A brief glimpse at the reason I exist and choose to pass on certain comforts of this temporal home.  I can’t sell God, but I can’t help talking about Him. 

Happiness is fleeting. Morality is death to those who know it, because they cannot keep it. Men will always be slaves to something, be it on earth or in heaven, but those who desire the things of God will find it.

People will know your joy often in your ability to confuse them with it.  You mean that you fasted on purpose?  You gave up a promising career in film on purpose?  You love God and tell people on purpose?  Why can’t you leave well enough alone?  Even among your own people, people that refer to themselves as Christian, if you have what God refers to as joy, you will often cause confusion by your actions.  This is the way God is.  He does things that anger and enflame even the people who call themselves His followers, even unto death, so that He might display his glory to everyone.

You want joy?  Prepare for things that make normal people unhappy.

James is better than me at communicating the
meaning of joy.  Check him out.