Stephen F. Austin State University

Finding Joy Anyway (October 2012)

Finding Joy Anyway
By Jeri Mills

These past two weeks have not been the best for me. Several events have caused me so much unhappiness. While visiting my 92 year mother in a nursing home in Longview, a cousin in California called and told me our mutual aunt, my mother's 86 year old sister passed away after a long illness. After closing my cell phone I looked at my mother sadly realizing she was in a stage of Alzheimer's not being able to normally process most information so I did not tell her. I also knew I would not make the trip to California for her services. I tried to find joy anyway telling myself my Aunt lived a full life and the past three years she was gravely ill just existing not living. I made an effort to mentally move forward and focus on other positive events like looking forward to my birthday weekend plans. While making plans for weekend, I received another call from someone telling me one my best friend passed away. Her sister told me her services would be the same weekend that I made plans out of the city to celebrate my birthday.

Another birthday celebration was a minor matter compared to losing one of your best friends. I still tried to find joy anyway as I sat in the Ervin Religious and Culture Center Chapel at Jarvis Christian College while attending her funeral. I tried to find joy as I looked at her smiling face on the twin images located high on two monitors above during her "Celebration of Life Services." On the drive back to Nacogdoches, my husband made several attempts to cheer me up as I sat quietly with my thoughts staring straight ahead. Suddenly, I sat up in the seat finding joy in the fact that I was still alive and able to process information, smell the flowers, listen to the sounds, feel the warmth of the sunshine coming through the car window and see the beauty of spring with its clothing of green grass and blue skies. I even found joy in tasting the warm green tea left opened in the beverage holder in the car. I promised myself that I would find joy anyway when we arrived home.

Happiness for many of us can be elusive based on either having something or not having something. Some of us say we will be happy when we get a new car, lose weight, make more money, meet Mr. or Miss Right or win the lotto. When some of this happens to us, we go right back to finding another reason why we are not happy. What we don't realize is happiness and joy is right there with us as long as we realize that God has given us everything that we need. We can find that joy because we know that God is taking care of us. You can join me and find joy in hearing the laughter of your grandchildren when when one may tell you, "You don't hear from me because you don't text." You can find joy when your daughter calls you and say, "Mama my mammogram was normal." This is joyful news when she battled breast cancer three years ago. You can find joy in loving your family members and forgive those who don't express or show love for you equally. I find joy in a few close friendships when these people accept me as I am and support me through it all. I find joy when I see that issue is not as bad as I thought it was because I prayed and let God take over what I thought was a problem. Life is complicated but if we can cut through the clutter of small stuff that doesn't matter anyway then we can find joy and define our own happiness.

Folks, don't allow yourself be one of those people who lives in hope of finding happiness "someday." Even when we experience a large dose of unhappiness, take the time to find the joys of "right now" otherwise you may miss out on the joy of that very day and at that very moment. Alice Walker, an African American writer said it best, "Don't wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get, you've got to make yourself."