What is Joy - Family Photo on ranch in Montana
Family + Friends, Real Life, Self Improvement

Joy is Essential

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What is Joy - Family Photo on ranch in Montana
Keeley McKay Photography

For years we were “doing” life, not LIVING life.

We’d wake up, chase the things that we thought brought us joy, would go to bed… exhausted, feeling like the day was a blur.

A few years ago we faced some of the hardest situations that left us angry, scared, stuck, uncertain, powerless, desperate and so many other “opposite of joy” feelings.

As I mentioned in my “We Moved. To Montana” post last month, I felt like life was over. Not only was I not living life… I wasn’t even DOING life anymore.

I found myself locked away in my room, hoping no one would come to the door… and hoping that at least one day, ONE day, would go by without some sort of attack on our family.

Now it would be easy for me to sit here and say that after the majority of our troubles were over, we began to discover joy and live life again. But that’s just not true.

Believe it or not, we actually FOUND joy during all of the heartache and perhaps that’s the reason I’m sharing this with you today.

If you’re going through a difficult time right now, I encourage you to find the joy in your life that currently exists.
It’s there. I promise. It doesn’t cost anything and you don’t have to wait your turn.

It may take a clean cloth to wipe the fuzziness off of your glasses (metaphorically speaking of course) and a deep breath to bring more awareness… and I’m hoping to be the clean cloth and fresh air that you need for this.

Some find joy in the hurt.

You see, during all of the attacks on our livelihood, character, family, and children, it made us an easy target for others (even people who didn’t know us) to jump on the bandwagon of “destruct and destroy”. It was like some just thrived on the drama and actually found joy in hurting us.

We have a culture where “we” LOVE catching people in their weakness. We love defining people by their weakness.

– Erwin McManus

But although this was a hurtful, hard and difficult time… somehow… SOMEHOW, we found joy during the hurt, while others were finding joy in the hurt.

Family photo in field in Montana
Keeley McKay Photography

“How did you find joy?”

We found joy because we began to let God be the source of joy in our lives.

Sure, it took a LOT for us to reach that point. It also took a lot of desperation, a lot of humbling, a lot of “slap us in the face” moments where we felt like we had nothing left. But friend, it doesn’t have to take that much for you.

Sure, we’ve known what God could do in our lives for years. Thank goodness we both grew up in Christian families and even had experienced miracles and God working in our lives before.

But in a dark place, it can be easy to forget just how welcoming God’s arms can be and it’s easy to forget that He can be the source of our joy.

We actually began to LIVE life during the midst of our trials and to this day, I believe that this is part of what saved us; our marriage, our family, our lives.

So what is Joy?

Joy is the consummate experience of being fully alive.

Erwin McManus

Deep, right? I know. Believe it or not, I’ve had that quote saved in my “notes” app for a few months after hearing one of his sermons. I knew at the time that I loved that quote but also didn’t fully comprehend it.

So in case it’s hard for you to fully encapsulate what he said too, I can’t help but draw a picture for you to help describe the true meaning of “joy” in case it’s helpful.

Let’s use my little boys as an example.

Two little boys playing on rope swing
Keeley McKay Photography

As I sit here writing this post, I’m watching my “littles” run in the yard, swing on the rope swing, and play in the creek… Typical little boys, right?

Right. But let’s think about what they’re experiencing.


What they’re feeling.

They’re carefree, have so much contentment, happiness, and they have a sense of security.

They know that their mom will feed them today, and their dad will fight off a bear if comes toward them… and they also know we’ll both wrap our arms around them tonight and make them feel loved.

We can have those same feelings with God. He is our sense of security, our spiritual food, and even the source of overall joy that we long for every.single.day, especially during the trials.

When we realize this and actually invite this in to our lives, the joy that we can experience is unlike any other feeling.

The true feeling of joy is when you can almost feel the pleasure of life against your skin.
There’s nothing that can come at you that can keep you down when you’re filled with true joy.

This is why joy is essential.

Joy will give you the strength to face every trial because true joy comes from God and God is way bigger than any trial you may be facing today.

So instead of just doing life, what if we lived life to the fullest and when faced with a trial, we use it as an alarm that God is about to do something amazing in our lives?

Little boy kissing momma on the cheek
Keeley McKay Photography

Note from Jessica:
I shared this post from my heart and I truly hope that it’s helpful for you today and that it’s something that you can carry with you as you go on LIVING life.
I quoted Erwin McManus a LOT in this post as he was the one who really helped me articulate what true joy is and I can’t thank him enough.

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4 thoughts on “Joy is Essential

  1. Karin says:

    Bless you Jessica. You are a blessing to many, I think.

    1. Jessica says:

      Thank you Karin!! I sure hope so!

  2. Natalie Jerzak says:

    Wow remarkable story! My family is on a journey…journey to learn more about Jesus daily. It’s a process and a commitment, but we have gained so much from it! Some days the joy is harder to find, but each day we strive! And the joyful days are the momentum that carries us through the difficult ones. Thanks again for articulating your families experience. Well stated!

    1. Jessica says:

      Hi Natalie! Absolutely… I’ve found that when we try and do our best to follow Jesus and do the next right thing, we gain from it too! Thank you so much for reading and for the sweet words!

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