Happy is a sham, because as you work to achieve it, it can so easily turn into what you live for. Happy can become your master, when you will sacrifice more than you should for it. If we start to live for happy, we can begin to hold onto it too tightly, for fear that if we admit it out loud, it will fall apart. Happy is something we want, and we fight to stay there. 

But joy…joy is different. There is sustainable joy, a joy that can go on and on and is found everywhere, but it is different than the happy you will see posted on social media. True joy won’t come from the next “making memories” plan we have with our kids. You know…the ones we work so hard to put together…then the pictures make it look way better than what we experienced. Seeing the pictures we think, “Wow, I was there too and that looks like joy, but it sure didn’t feel like it.”

If we learn to live each moment as we were created to live, with our gaze set on our God and not on our circumstances, our happy will turn into joy. When we experience the best moments of life with God, it turns those moments into places of gratitude. Gratitude acknowledges that it wasn’t our work or our effort, and the reliance on God in the experience makes it a feeling we are not responsible to hold together. It replaces the happy that you create with the joy that God gives. And that joy is sustainable.

When our hearts learn to flow more naturally with gratitude, we won’t need to manufacture happy. We will see God in the everyday moments and our lives will begin to overflow with joy, connected and free, and as we learn to experience God in the best times, what stirs up joy may change. 

When I experience God moment-by-moment, life lived truly with Him has become my joy. When I follow Him closely into the uncertain = joy. When I watch him call my friend’s heart = joy. When I see him connect the dots in my son’s thoughts = joy. When I watch my husband run through the amusement park like one of the kids…acknowledging this as an answer to prayers = joy.

Joy is something I haven’t manufactured. When I omit myself from the equation and begin to look for and plead to experience my God in each moment, each moment connected to Him becomes a source of joy. The joy becomes something I didn’t manufacture, so I am not responsible to recreate it or surpass it the next time. Joy is found in the overflow of my experience with God, gratitude for what I do not deserve, but for what He so freely gives. 

When we experience God in each moment, we don’t manufacture the highs.

Our joy becomes authentic, because it is sourced from the Creator of all joy.

Our joy becomes sustainable, because we are not responsible for it.

Experiencing God in the highs becomes like breathing. It’s noticing, it’s connecting the dots, it’s hearing Him in His Word…it’s so much more than ice cream on a warm summer night when a moment later that same ice cream is on the floor. Joy is more stable because it is not created by our plans.  

Don’t live to manufacture happy. Live in the perpetual experience of God, bringing Him into every moment, where the pockets of the most joy come from the most unexpected places.

Ask for joy, plead for laughter. Don’t make it yourself. Experience it with the Creator of all joy, with open hands and open eyes. Experience each moment breathing in and out with God.  

True joy awaits.