Happy Happy :: Joy Joy


I struggle with discontentment on a regular basis. Oh mercy, I fight it at every turn. I am convinced – convinced – that if I could do or get juuuust one more thing, then I would be happy.

Throughout the years, my “one more thing” has taken different forms. When I was little, I wanted a Popple. And then a Skip-It. And maybe a Teddy Ruxpin.* As I grew older, that desire turned into a kitten, and then a boom-box, and then a car, and then to move away from my hometown. Once I was established in Seattle, it became a cell phone, and then a boyfriend, and then to turn 21, and then an iPod, and then a job, and then that dress at Anthropologie, and then to lose 5 pounds, and then a Macbook, and then a plane ticket, and then a couch, and then freedom, and then a purpose… all the while, searching simply for contentment.

I want things. I want them my way. And I want them now.

I know in my head that more things and more achievements and more experiences will not make me happy – there will always be something next, something greater, something bigger and better. My head knows this. My heart, though, is harder to convince.

Now that I’m here in Nashville, stripped of a lot of the comforts that I had come to rely on in my former city, I am confronting my discontentment every single day. I don’t have the same level of security and resources and time-tested friendships that I had in Seattle. I find myself making suppositions – that I just need to find a fulfilling job, or be really popular, or write some awesome songs, or be skinnier, or do something extravagantly impressive, or maybe just buy that little shelf at T.J. Maxx for my bathroom – and then my time here will have some purpose.

But I’m convinced that there is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is an easy quick-fix, a circumstantial band-aid that covers up the real festering issue. Joy is authentic. Joy cannot be shaken by the everyday emotional rollercoaster. As I am tossed about by the winds and the waves, joy holds like an anchor.

And joy only comes from one place. And so these days, I am praying for joy.

*Let it be known that as a child, I never got a Popple, or a Skip-It, OR a Teddy Ruxpin. Maybe this is the root of my panic-driven, constant, grasping need for more and more?



  1. kristy on May 20, 2008 at 11:34 AM

    once again, very similar issues. i mean, i’m sure we all have that feeling, but i think with me, it’s the drastic changes i make to find something *more* than what i am doing, something that will change the world that i perceive. i would say that it’s good you are keeping yourself in check. i would also venture to say, maybe you are venturing further than most to live a life full of adventure. something most dare not do for the sake of the comfortable, the safe. either way, we are one in the same on this, and it’s nice to know that someone else is out there struggling with the same things – (daily!) because then, i’m not alone anymore.

  2. Rebecca on May 20, 2008 at 11:51 AM

    Dude. I had a Popple! But not a Skip-It or Teddy Ruxpin. TR kinda freaked me out.

    You speak to my soul, new-soul-mate-friend-I-have-yet-to-meet. Thank you so much for sharing this! I often (like every day) have to remind myself that EVER getting to London, or EVER getting married, or EVER getting it together organizationally will not ultimately satisfy my soul. Only Jesus. And He’s really the only one that matters.

    Sending love and hugs xoxo

  3. Grant on May 20, 2008 at 12:34 PM

    Ecc 2:10-11 “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

    We have the sorrow of living under the sun, but belong to one above the sun. All the great things of this earth give pleasure only for a short bit. They are meant to be enjoyed, but not meant to fulfill. The fulfillment comes from not relying on them but understanding that they are gifts to point us to the one thing that can.

  4. Annie on May 20, 2008 at 5:40 PM

    Sister, June 14-16. I’m in Nashville. We are hanging. Happy happy joy joy. :)

  5. MB on May 20, 2008 at 6:11 PM

    Popples were the best thing to play indoor soccer with – not too soft not too bouncy – just right.

    Your blog is becoming one of my favorites, even if you couldn’t pass one of my geography tests. Ha! – MB

  6. Case and Los on May 21, 2008 at 12:34 AM


  7. addison on May 21, 2008 at 7:17 AM

    Just found this and thought you’d find it interesting. :-)

    Joy versus Happiness

    It is far better to seek “joy.” Joy is related to happiness, but it is a deeper experience. In the search for happiness the individual focuses upon himself, but joy moves a person out of a self-centered preoccupation and provides an orientation towards others. Joy is an experience which connects us to that which is “Greater” than we are. It connects us to the creative power that is more than the “I” or ego. Joy gets us out of ourselves and in contact with this “Other” and with others. Joy can sustain us throughout the four phases of life. If we are willing to give up the search for happiness, we may find joy. It exists near the center of the wheel where happiness and suffering meet and intermingle.

    To make such a move off the rim from happiness into suffering requires faith. Faith is also found at the center of the Wheel of Life. It is where Loss and Hope intersect. Faith comes from the action of moving towards the center. It is not that we have faith first and then act. We act first. Moving towards hope in the midst of loss gives birth to faith. This is a move that engages rather than avoids suffering. The creative power at the center of the wheel brings into being Faith and Joy. They exist in the context and container of Love, which is also at the center of the wheel. To love is to respect and value ourselves while breaking out of limited self interest and reaching out to others. It is Love, Joy, and Faith that give meaning to life, and they arise from being centered.


  8. *j-u-l-e-s* on May 28, 2008 at 11:43 AM

    OMG! I know *exactly* the shelf you’re talking about! And now that I know you want it, I’m going to go buy it RIGHT NOW! :lol

    great post.

    And don’t you be dissin’ on Nashville!!!

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