Joy, the result of knowing your life really does matter

Joy!  All of us yearn to experience it, but it is a word that describes an emotional state that so often proves to be elusive and fleeting.  We simply have too much to do, too many demands upon us, too many burdens and daily cares that preoccupy and rob our experience of joy.  Our lives are cluttered with “emotional stuff”, like a suitcase we perpetually must carry when traveling through life.  Sadly it is our ”carry-on” companion and we can’t stuff it in the overhead compartments crammed with others stuff.

One of the elements on the pathway to experiencing joy is living with contentment with whatever our status in life is.  That is easier said then done, if we have several unsettling relationships and situations to deal with.  I certainly do not mean we should be content and not try to improve our circumstances in life; or suggesting we embrace a philosophy of not  trying  for anything better.  It just means finding peace with where you are in the moment, because it is only that inner peace that can give us the foundation and strength to strive for something more special and worthwhile to achieve.  So often we tragically fail to see that which is special all around us; if we only open our eyes and follow the wonder of the inner child.  Finding a balance between inner satisfaction with “what is”, while at the same time also  embracing a healthy discontentment with “what is” might be a bit tricky, but it holds at least a part of the key to our pathway to joy. 

We only get one life.  We are born into circumstances that provide us both opportunities and obstacles.  None of us goes through life unscathed by things that discourage and sadden us.  But we also can ‘make our own music”.   Most of all, each one of us can make the world a better place by how we live while here.   Joy comes in part from the satisfaction of feeling your life counts.  There can be no joy for anyone if you do not feel that your life counts and that you are making a contribution to make someone else’s life better.   That is what gives you inner joy, knowing in some way you have left a mark on someone and it mattered.  

To get to the place of knowing your life is making a difference  you have to really enjoy people and let them into your life.   And yes, I know, being open does leave you susceptible in the word’s of Henri Nouwen, “a wounded healer”.  Love does cost, but it also fulfills us.  Show me a life without love and I will show you a life that has missed out on joy. 

As the New Year dawns, my hope and prayer for us all is that we risk loving, so that we can have the joy that is testimony that our lives have made a difference to others.  This is a great gift to me that our work at the iF Foundation blesses me with.  Thanks to your support, we feel we are making a difference and we receive the gift of joy in abundance!  Blessings to each of us in the New Year!

Fr. B

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