Her serious illness has been a sobering, painful, frightening, and expensive business. It has affected all aspects of her life and ours. It has changed the course of our day-to-day living, replanted us geographically, inspired an early retirement for me, and shifted our priorities. It has also blessed us with a relationship with our grandson and adventures and friendships that we would have never experienced. Susan has expressed many of the ways she has grown and blossomed through this struggle, and we second that emotion. We have thought about the lessons learned of not taking people for granted and not wasting precious time that could be spent with a loved one, or having an adventure.
But my middle name is Claire and not Pollyanna, and let’s face it, some days are better than others. It is during one of these sort-of sad and pensive times that I started to think about the difference between joy and happiness. Here are my working definitions: “Happiness” is an emotion that waxes and wanes based on outward circumstances, or the weather, the day of the week, or if the Red Sox win or lose. “Joy” on the other hand is a condition of the soul based on a decision (to trust God). It is a core value of a person not based on external circumstances. It has a spiritual basis. It is a ‘Fruit of the Spirit’, meaning that as we yield ourselves to God and allow him to lead us; He remodels us into His likeness and His character begins to take root in our lives and bear good fruit. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. Galatians 5:22.We all have challenges and struggles in this world and my desire is to face mine with joy, no matter what. I choose joy, based on my unconditional faith in a loving God and knowledge of His perfect plan for my life.