Contrary to usual verbiage there is a difference between happiness and joy, and that distinction is oh so important for us in our process of discernment.
To keep it simple, happiness is the emotive state we find ourselves in when we feel as if we have met some psychological or bodily desire.
So you imagine the child, oh so happy to be looking at his new lego set.
You might imagine the man or woman, staggeringly happy about their latest acquisition.
Or in the more dangerous realm, we might even point out how happy the addict is to finally get what they crave.
All of these, whether mundane or extreme, make us feel good while the want is being met.
But when the desire has been met, what then?
The feeling disappears.
Happiness then is a great word to describe the experience of those things in our lives that are fleeting.
They fill us up and yet we do not feel satisfied…hmmm…
…have you ever felt like that?
Compare that with joy, the word we use for the state of mind and heart that remains even after psychological and bodily needs are met or never being met.
How many times have we heard here in the west that so and so visited an extremely poor country, expecting to find misery, but was surprised to find an authentic and lived joy.
Don’t be surprised by this. Joy is detached from the ups and downs of everyday life and fixes itself somewhere in the heavens.
SO WHY BRING ALL OF THIS UP?
Because one of the best tools we have for discerning God’s will in our lives is to see where he has placed our joy.
Which of the options doesn’t just make you happy…no no forget that, it is too limiting…which one brings you joy?
Which one brings a smile to your lips and for a reason that may be difficult to explain?
If you find joy there…
…then it may be a strong indication that this is the path you should take.
But before you decide, hold on, there is one more aspect of discernment you really need to look at.
And I’ll share that with you next week.
in Christ, patrick