I just recently finished C. S. Lewis’ book, Surprised by Joy. Throughout the book, I couldn’t really figure out what he meant by joy, because the way he described it was familiar, but not how I had ever heard joy described.
“All Joy reminds.” Lewis states in the book.
He goes on to say that whenever we identify an object, experience, person, or whatever, is the cause of our joy, we miss it entirely. Joy, he says, is a sign.
In thinking about it now, I can see his point. For example, the joy of Christmas is more often in the excitement before, and build up to the day, but not actually the day itself.
Being the thoughtful, introspective, introvert that I am (enneagram 5, if you keep up with the trending thing), I was thinking about Lewis’ definition of joy while at the park with my children.
Clearly, from their expressions, they are enjoying themselves. Why? All three are feeling something they crave, and intangible thing that causes them to meltdown and throw tantrums when it’s time to leave the park.
For my son, it’s the joy of doing something with another. Togetherness is his favorite. You can’t touch that, it’s incredibly hard to manufacture it, and fake togetherness does not spark that same feeling of joy he wants.
For my youngest daughter, it’s a simple thrill. The little g-force of a swing, delight of being tickled, or playing peek-a-boo. Again, an untouchable thing, an emotion, which can be caused by several different things.
For my middle child, she’s a little trickier than the other two. She enjoys things that strike awe. How do you capture that? She finds joy in music, drawing, dancing, funny faces, the feel of the wind in her hair, a flower in bloom, a bird flying, a rain shower. For her, joy is a mystery. It strikes when she least expects it, and she does all she can to replicate it, usually resulting in frustration and the occasional tantrum.
All three of my children love the feeling of joy, they seek it, they crave it, they get very upset when they can’t reproduce it.
I have the privilege, as their mom, to show them that joy is not an end all. That feeling, that rush, that high, is rather unattainable, but it points to something better, something that is everlasting.
The togetherness my son craves is ultimately satisfied in relationship with the never leaving friend of his Savior Jesus.
The thrilling emotion my youngest loves is caused by the Creator of the world, the God of the universe who made her to have emotions.
The awe my middle child feels points to the fall-to-the-floor awe we will experience when we see God face to face.
Joy is a pointer to the ultimate, to God.
My prayer, as a parent and follower of Christ, that I would not look for joy in this world, and that I would point my children to the Lord of Joy. I pray that one day, I would be able to stand side by side with my children and make a joyful noise to the Lord.
Soli Deo Gloria