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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Joy in the Journey, an Epiphany

Joy is one of those elusive topics for me, as a believer.  I read about it, I hear it preached and occasionally, very occasionally, I hear someone say they've experienced it.  I've struggled with my lack of joy for some time.  That's not to say I'm a Grumpy Gus.  I work hard to maintain a positive attitude.  And I've heard some try to reduce the "Joy of the Lord" to a positive attitude.  That kind of reductionism never seemed to work for me.  I expect it to be something bigger, fuller and more life altering that PMA (positive mental attitude).

Two experiences came together for me this morning.  First was to read the blog of a friend at the Spark People weight loss community website www.sparkpeople.com.  This friend has gone through a really tough patch recently with illness in the family, financial worries, her personal stress and then her dog even took ill. One of the things that attracted me to this young woman was the constant drive and joy she seemed to take in her journey to fitness as she regularly reported her latest race run, or objective achieved.  Of course, with all the stress in her life, she got distracted from her fitness goals.  Understandable.  But she seems almost frantic about getting back on the right track.  Her joy had been robbed.

Earlier this year, I started training to walk a 5k with a friend from church.  Our early morning walks have become such a delight that the time goes quickly, as did the 5k.  It was almost two months ago, and we're still walking, finding our joy in the journey.  I have come to believe that, as long as we draw breath, there are no real destinations, only mileposts.  Our joy is not in the arriving, but in the journey.  Every morning, my walk starts and ends in front of my own house.  If I were focused on the destination, I'd be bored.  If I were only focused on the goal of being healthier or thinner, I would be frustrated when my weight fluctuated or when my aging joints thwarted my walking pace.  My joy is in the journey and the company I keep.

I hope, for my Spark Friend, that she will rediscover the joy in the journey.  Michael Card wrote a song about that journey and it has been a favorite of mine, even when I struggle to experience joy.  Here from Cross.tv:

"Joy in the Journey" by Michael Card