Joy is hard. It's a concept I did not understand for a long time, but finally, I think I've got it.
Joy is something that I thought I would not have until I was older. Once I graduated, got married, had kids, traveled, owned a home- then I would be joyful. Over and over I have been told that we have joy in Jesus, and I had tried so hard to cultivate that. Surrounding myself with people that make me feel good, doing "self care", and buying silly things like large yaks are just a few things I thought were bringing me joy. While they made me happy- none of them brought true joy. The only place I found that joy was at the feet of Jesus.
Joy kind of sucks, for me at least. I never realized I had it until I needed it, until life was no longer fun. I realized I had joy at the same time I realized I didn't have happiness. To eliminate the need for a whole sad gorl hour, let me list off some not so fun things that have happened to me recently:
1. I switched churches
2. My relationship ended
3. I haven't made any friends in my new town
Really, these are not fun things. If I had a dollar for every night I've spent crying on the phone about how much fun I am not having, I would not have to worry about tuition. Through this all, the strangest thing is that I have not felt crushed.
After 20 years on this earth, I've been in plenty of not fun times. And they were soul crushing. I am talking I can't get out of bed, I stop going to class, take as little shifts at work as possible and avoid any social interaction I can. Basically, function at the bare minimum. I have done exactly that for situations that were not compare-able to where I am now.
The difference in self-pity-wallowing-sad-gorl Vada and Vada now, is that I have been in relationship with Christ. Through the sadness, I still have joy. There are days when it is hard, remember I just told you I've cried enough to fill a small kiddie pool in the last three months, but I've constantly felt filled and loved. Through Jesus. Only Jesus.
When I think about all of the ways Jesus is using me, loving me and teaching me, it is so hard not to be joyful. I am joyful that I am in relationship with Him and that I get to know His name. I am joyful that somehow, even though I let Him down every day, He wants me. My life is not about me. Things in my life do and will make me sad, but the larger purpose I am here for- the Kingdom, will bring me nothing but joy.
Life is hard, but Jesus is so so good. During the hard times, pray. Surround yourself with other believers, and if your mental health is seriously struggling, there is nothing wrong with seeking help. He is near to the broken hearted, and if you call to Him, you will find a joy like no other.