One of the things I have noticed since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis and with the ongoing urban demonstrations and rioting in our land is an increasing absence of joy among our people.
And people in general seem less happy. Of course, happiness is based more on one’s circumstances than joy. Joy is that which transcends circumstance.
Why does it seem we have lost the handle on experiencing real joy in the everyday?
For one thing, I think too many people have come to a point that they take themselves way to seriously.
There is a self-forgetfulness in which real joy finds its roots.
I once heard the story of a girl named Nancy who was celebrating her 11th birthday. Her mother had gone all out to make Nancy’s big day special. Nancy, who loved her friends, worked hard making sure all her guests where having a great time. Finally, as the party was coming to an end, her friends began to chant, “It’s time to open your presents.” “Open your presents, Nancy.” “Yes, open your presents.”
Nancy, who suddenly felt embarrassed, replied, “I was having so much fun serving my friends I forgot I was here.”
Now, that’s a peek into real joy.
The classic 1970 Western movie titled “Little Big Man” starred Dustin Hoffman as a white boy adopted by a Native American tribe. His grandfather was named Old Lodge Skins. Whenever the boy would visit the old Indian, Old Lodge Skins would exclaim, “Ah, my son, the sight of you makes my heart soar like the hawk.”
I understood the old man’s feelings. When I was a boy, I use to watch red-tailed hawks soar in blue skies high above the Brim Hollow. Sometimes they would soar so high they would go out of sight. There is joy when your heart can soar.
We have seven grandchildren – four girls, three boys. Fortunately, the older girls like country music. I was driving somewhere recently with the three older girls –Oakley, 10, Jane, 9, and Lena, 7 – riding in the back seat. Suddenly, a country song came on the radio, and all three started to sing along. And all three knew the words.
There is something special about little girls singing together – like the voices of angels.
My heart soared like the hawk.
As I look back across the years of my life, so many fine people come to mind. I, like most of my readers, have known so many great people. Most are dead and gone, but their influence remains alive and well. You might say I am who I am because of who they were. When I think of them, I am overwhelmed with a deep sense of joy - joy in having known them – joy in having been blessed by their lives.
I’ve been a part of a church family since I was 6 weeks old. That’s when my mother first introduced me to church. I’ve been going ever since. You might say I have attended a house of worship for nearly seven decades. At an early age, I recognized an authenticity in the people with whom I attended church – country people who loved God. Through the years, the names have changed, but the reality remains – there is something special about being a part of the family of God. I’m not talking religion here; I’m talking relationship. I’m speaking of laughing together, weeping together, struggling together and rejoicing together. The result is joy.
I am a lover of music. Great music has a way of lifting our spirits and taking us to distant places. I listen often because great song lyrics have a way of lifting me above the noise – soaring, you might say.
The circumstances presented by today’s world have a way of squeezing joy from our lives. Don’t let it happen to you.
Old Abe Lincoln said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” The same applies to joy.
Make up your mind.
Jack McCall is a motivational humorist, Southern storyteller and author. A native Middle Tennessean, he is recognized on the national stage as a certified speaking professional.