Such a small word.  A word that seems out of place in a world rocked by death, destruction, violence and oppression.  An experience that seems so far away as we are struggling to survive, or fight racism, or cure and prevent disease, or heal ourselves and others, or all the above.  And we are tired.

Our struggle takes energy, and our fuel tanks may feel near empty.  Yet somehow, we endure – and we must endure for the long haul.  Change does not happen quickly enough.

Where do we get the strength and power to endure?  Some of us find it in God, Allah, our spirituality perhaps with others in our church, synagogue or mosque. Others find it in relationships or in nature.  There and elsewhere – even when we feel helpless or hopeless – we can find a moment of joy. And then maybe another.

This little, three-letter word, joy, can give us the desire and power to endure.  Yet when we are hurting, grieving, struggling, how can we find joy?  Is it OK to let myself feel joy when the pain is so big?  It is OK to feel joy, and it is necessary.  Experiencing joy doesn’t mean that the pain is gone, but it means that suffering isn’t everything.  It doesn’t win.

Where is joy?  Joy can be found in the little things around us, and if we let them count, they add up and fill our empty tanks so we can go on – empowered, hopeful.  So, what are these little things?  Perhaps the joy that we feel when:

  • A two-year-old says to his father going to work: “Bye-bye, da-da.”
  • A grown daughter puts her arms around our neck and says, “I love you mommy.”
  • A baby coos.
  • The sky turns pink and orange and blue and purple as the darkness gives way to light – and as the light fades into darkness at the end of a day.
  • The sun shines once again.
  • The scent of jasmine bathes the summer air.
  • Cold water quenches a parched throat.
  • A soft breeze touches bare skin.
  • Dewdrops glisten in the morning sun.
  • A song expresses the longing in our souls.
  • The moment our children are in bed and the house is quiet.
  • The juice of the first peach of summer dances on our tongues.
  • An emoji hug from a friend appears in our text messages.
  • A puppy licks my toes.
  • A kitten purrs as its tiny body is stroked.

May you be blessed this day by noticing the things around you that beckon you to feel joy.

Carol Pitts, PhD, LPC, LMFT, CPCS, is Clinical Director of CHRIS Counseling Center – DeKalb. She can be reached at [email protected]

Carol Pitts, PhD, LPC, LMFT, CPCS
[email protected]
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