Finding Joy In the Present
Joy can sometimes be elusive, don’t you think?
Generally, I am a happy person, and I think that most of you wouldn’t describe yourselves as misers and grouches, either. Yet, somewhere, hidden deep in our back thoughts, is the idea that keeps creeping up – “I’d be completely happy if…” There seems to always be something or other keeping us from experiencing true joy.
For every stage in life we set up parameters that we measure our happiness by.
“I’d be happy if I could finally finish college.”
“I’d be happy if I got married.”
“I’d be happy if I got a certain job.”
“I’d be happy if we bought a house.”
You know what’s my picture of my complete happiness? Sergi and I having a beautiful home in the country, having 3-4 adorable children, all my family members being healthy and doing well, Sergi continuing to be successful and growing in his career, thriving in my favorite role of homemaker, writer, cook and tending a gorgeous garden, full of all kinds of amazing fruits and veggies. I know! What a lovely scene, right?
There’s a problem with this thinking though.
There’s a verse in the Bible that says it really well.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17
Our definition of happiness keeps changing, doesn’t it? It’s like a mirage, whenever we finally reach the place where we were sure we saw that sparkling water, it’s no longer there and has moved farther out of reach.
For years, I told myself “I’d be happy if I was a mother.” And I AM. I love being a mother, having that sweet little face light up with joy when he sees me above his crib, or hear his baby babbles, and I love seeing my husband in the role of a father. But you know what I tell myself now? “I’d be happy if I could only be certain that he will be with us forever. I’d be happy if we finalized the adoption and this beautiful little boy shared our last name. I’d be happy if I knew I would get to see him grow up and go to school, etc.”
When we tell ourselves that we’d be happy if we could get through college, once that is achieved, we want that perfect job, then a house, then a better house, etc. Does it ever stop?
Is it wrong to wish for more? Of course not. In fact, I am a strong believer in always striving for the better. If we don’t grow as individuals that is another problem altogether. I think it’s so important to dream, to grow, and achieve the things that we long for.
There is a difference though, in basing our happiness on something that can and will change though. Besides, a lot of things are out of our control anyway.
True joy comes from deep within, not based on circumstances.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject recently. Last month, I read about it in my devotions, check it out here.
One thing that really stood out to me in this devotional, is that when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, they could eat from every tree except one. The devil used a very familiar tactic with Eve that we experience all the time now too.
“Rather than being thankful for what we do have, he points out what we don’t have. Think about it. Eve had at her disposal every tree in the Garden except one. Every one! That is a smorgasbord of goodness! But rather than being thankful, she bought the lie that the one thing she couldn’t have was the one thing that would make her happy. I would be happy if…”
I’m also reading a book by Nancy Leigh Demoss, Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey To Joy. I’m excited to read it and so far, it’s great!
Genuine joy is a choice. Just like the kind of marriage you have is a choice you make every day, your attitude is something you choose every day too, like an outfit for the day. Imagine yourself standing in front of all the options in your closet and wondering, hmmm, will I put on crabbiness, depression, self-pity, jealousy, discontentment or will I choose joy? I know it’s a lame and corny comparison, but it gets the point across:).
Yes, I know that sometimes life is tough. It would be weird if you were jolly and laughing and smiling away if someone died in the family or you crashed your car. Even when we are grieving, experiencing loss or pain, we can still choose our outlook in that situation as well. I’ve had really dark days, when my world seemed crumbling down. Those are the times it’s completely appropriate to cry and be sad. Even then, instead of being in the depths of despair, we have an amazing God who will be there beside us.
In our regular day to day life, I want to learn to find joy in today and in my present situation. Instead of focusing on the fact that my Sergi and I haven’t had a full night of sleep since October, and just waiting for the time that the boys will be toddlers and will hopefully sleep through the night, I want to enjoy cuddling a newborn baby and enjoy their long naps during the day.
Also, isn’t it awesome that babies don’t get into everything yet? If you leave them in one spot, they’ll still be there when you come back:).
Instead of moaning and grumbling that I live in an apartment, I’ll enjoy the fact that my husband doesn’t need to mow the lawn and if our refrigerator breaks, we can call maintenance to come fix it or replace it. That doesn’t mean that we won’t happily be house hunting this summer though:). Yay!
Life is so much more pleasant when we focus on the great things that we already have than the things we don’t have.
Thank you so much for this blog! I have been thinking about this for awhile now as well. It is so very true. We forget to find the joy in our day to day basis.
God bless your heart and your beautiful family
Thank you so much for this wonderful post, Olga. I actually teared up.
” Our definition of happiness keeps changing, doesn’t it? It’s like a mirage, whenever we finally reach the place where we were sure we saw that sparkling water, it’s no longer there and has moved farther out of reach.”
So true! Love this post, you hit it right on! It’s so easy to get caught up in life’s milestones, you have to be intentional about choosing to be joyful and that can be so difficult sometimes…
Today, I choose joy. -Thank you
Thank you so much for writing this. I really needed it. Had a rough week.
God bless you.
I agree with everything u say in this post . Life is full of choices . U r an excellent writer . Keep doing what u r doing, u r inspiring a lot of people to make better choices in life, to better themselves. May God keep blessing u 🙂
Very encouraging post. We choose joy amidst our circumstance, and I love that God is always with us no matter what season in life we’re in! I love the verse Romans 8:28 God always works it out for our good no matter what 🙂
Blessings to you and your family 🙂
You are so inspirational! I love your posts, always so uplifting 🙂
Thank you for this amazing post. It is something I needed to hear as I find myself saying that often “I’d be happy if…” For me it is “after I lose 10 pounds” or “after we move into a house with a yard.” I need to stop thinking like that and be really happy with what I DO have!
I really like the story about the Garden of Eden highlighting this fact. I honestly never thought of it that way before. Thank you for explaining that!
Also I forgot to add to my previous comment – I think you should publish a book (if you’re not already). Your perspective on life and you’re writing is so inspirational!
Dear Olga, god bless you and your family ! You and Sergi are amazing ,so glad there are people like you 2 out there. I understand excatly what you are saying in this post ,i have a similar newspaper article on my fridge which pretty much talks about enjoying the now ! You got this girl !!!!!
What a great point! You’re such a beautiful person. I not only find helpful kitchen tips here but also emotional support and ecouragement! THANK YOU SO MUCH!
What happened to that little girl?
She only stayed with us for a short time. I do not disclose any personal information about the children that are part of our family.
Fabulous writing Olga! Your words just create whole scenes in the imagination. You’re terrific with words! Keep up the great work!
Great post Olga! I love reading your stories! Danny is getting so big now, Its nice that you post some pictures of him once in a while, so we can see how hes growing up. He is so blessed to have you as his parents. I have a little boy that was born in Ocotber, I think thats when you got Danny so its nice to see them both grow up at the same time. May God bless your family!
I was just thinking about this the other day, asking myself, what really stops me from feeling happy “right this moment”, to feel content and joyous at this precise moment in our life. Why should we wait until tomorrow to feel it, what if tomorrow never arrives? Good post, made me think even more. thank you.
you are so awesome Olga! I love reading your posts, they encourage me going,,,,blessings to your family.
I loved this post. Your “I’d be happy if…” examples were right on target for how I’ve been feeling. I needed to hear this. Thank you.
they are cute and lovely!!!yours post are awesome Olga! I really enjoyed!!!
WOW, I really admire what you do and how positive you are about everything. God bless you! And those precious boys are really blessed to have you in their lives! GOD IS GOOD! oh and i also love your recipes 🙂
This is such an encouraging post. Often, I would think about “I’ll be happy when I graduate.., I’ll be happy when I’m married.., I’ll be happy when I move to another location…” Little did I realize I was taking joy away from myself in those moments. It really is quite simple and you do a good job of explaining. God already provides us with all we need. And He has provided you with a beautiful family!
I’m so glad that you enjoyed this post, Lauren. Thanks for taking the time to write.
Yes, God blesses us with so much, if only we would focus on all that we have to be thankful for.
God has been so good to me; I will be forever grateful.