Where I found joy

Happiness isn’t like a piece of clothing – it’s not tangible or material – and yet people constantly ask me where I got mine.

Photo by: Heather Matley
Photo by: Heather Matley

“When our lives are filled with peace, faith and joy, people will want to know what we have,” said David Jeremiah, a man I will later explain.

In my 21 years of life, I’ve probably been on the same journey as everyone else trying to find happiness. The only difference with me was that I knew I exuded a different energy of happiness because of the countless number of people who questioned or complimented my consistency of it.

The difference between happiness and joy is that the former is based on situations. Happiness can be tested through difficulties and hardships, but joy exists even within. Simply said, happiness is a temporary emotion whereas joy is an attitude of the heart.

It wasn’t until college when I realized my happiness was stemming from something greater than anything I did myself. I learned to differentiate the two when I realized people were still asking me how I was always smiling even when I didn’t know it.

I remembered a letter my friend had written me my senior year of high school. In the letter, he recalled a service he was in at the church I also went to and the pastor had talked about the gift of joy, specifically using my name as an example.

Before reading this letter, I never knew my constant happiness could be something else other than timely feelings, and not until college did I actually soak in and understand that my happiness was an overflow from my joy.

Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinions and beliefs, but to share where I found my joy, I have to share my religion. The aforementioned David Jeremiah is a Christian author and pastor, and the “we” he refers to are followers of God. Through my faith in God, I was able to learn the difference between happiness and joy and find both.

 Photo By: Yebin Park. July 2013 in Vietnam, with one of my favorite children from the church.

Photo By: Yebin Park. July 2013 in Vietnam, with one of my favorite children from the church.

C.S. Lewis, author of “The Chronicles of Narnia,” said, “And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

Like every other 20-something-year old, I went through the highs and lows of life. Deciding a career path I wanted to be genuinely in love with, joining two different sororities and dropping out of both, and worrying monthly about paying rent on time were just a few lows.

At the same time, I also experienced some amazing highs, living with who I believe were the best housemates, finally realizing what I want to do with my life, and consequently scoring an internship at Sony Music Entertainment. I also had the opportunity to travel to churches in Vietnam and Mexico, where I met children and their families who had little, but still found joy in their faith in God to show me more love than I was able to give.

Even in the midst of feeling like I am winning at life, the truth is that there always was and will be a bad day. Everything good in the world – food, music, travel, luxuries, accomplishments – make me as excited as the next person, but I learned that such happiness is only temporary. With my faith in God however, there’s nothing I am required to do or buy to receive love and happiness, so that is where I found my joy.

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