Message of Faith – Through the Eyes of a Child: World of Joy

This weeks Message of Faith submitted by Rev. Joanne Rowden

Through the Eyes of a Child: World of Joy

Psalm 118:24 reminds us, “This is the day the Lord has made, We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Are you rejoicing in the beauty and light of this day? Do you recognize that you have the choice to center in joy at any moment? Do you know that the experience of joy is something different than happiness?

joyful-child-WEBThe Declaration of Independence declares that we have all been created equal with an unalienable right to pursue happiness. For the most part, our culture supports the idea that happiness is something we experience when we get something out in the world. For example, you can experience happiness when you buy this new car, new house, new clothes, or new tool. You can experience happiness when you take a vacation, retire, or get your dream job. You can experience happiness when you are in a relationship, have a baby or graduate from college. There is something that happens in the world, and the result is a feeling of happiness.

Happiness is a feeling, an emotion that is caused by a chemical reaction in our brain. Neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor tells us that any emotion that we feel will move through our body in 90 seconds as long as we don’t attach a story to it. Happiness is no exception. We long to capture that happiness. We fear jinxing our happiness by talking about it with others. We can be concerned about appearing too happy to those in our lives who are going through challenges. This pursuit of happiness is a complex and temporary experience.

Joy is different. Joy, to me, is a state of being. It is a state of being that acknowledges that no matter what I am experiencing in the world, I can know that I am fundamentally whole, holy and complete. This state of being is not dependent upon anything in our outer world. This state of being is available to us at all times when we are open to the experience. I recently came to my own understanding that we are born knowing joy, but we are taught happiness.

Children have an amazing capacity to be in the state of joy. About the age of 6 months, babies begin to demonstrate that joy through their deep belly laughs. It doesn’t take much to get the laughter going. A quick video search of babies laughing reveals babies laughing at paper being ripped, staring at their twin, hearing a strange noise, or seeing their parent smile. When my granddaughter was this age, she laughed contagiously as I gently hit her belly over and over with a soft pillow. Before long we were all roaring with laughter listening to her expressing her joy. When was the last time you allowed yourself to let go and experience a deep belly laugh?

As we grow, we often get very serious about life and the pursuit of happiness. We go to work day after day to make a living but often forget to live. As life becomes a serious venture, we forget that in every moment we can center and have an experience of joy. How does knowing joy in every moment affect your life?

As you and I understand joy to be a state of being, a state that is available to us in any moment, we come to a deep remembering that we are in a state of at-one-ment with God, Divine Mind, the Source of all good. In that state of remembering, you can know that at any moment you have all you need to meet this moment in grace. No matter what you are experiencing right now, you are fundamentally whole, holy and complete. God, the Source of all good, is providing for your every need. Stop, breathe, rest in that knowing. As you do so, you will begin to have an experience of joy.

Knowing that joy is available in every moment does not diminish the emotion of sadness or upset that you might be feeling. It is not good to stuff these emotions. However, as you acknowledge the feeling of sadness, allowing it to move through, you also can remember that within this sadness is the opportunity to fully know and experience the fullness of the Power of God in this moment. That knowing allows you to experience a sense of well being, a sense of joy, in spite of the sadness.

This week we practice lightening up! Find ways to experience joy. Put on a happy song and dance away. Play an uplifting CD in your car on your way to work and sing loudly and boldly. Smile at people you meet throughout your day. As you find yourself facing something you are not looking forward to, pause and remind yourself, “I am going to do this anyway, so I choose to do it with an attitude of joy.” Celebrate joy!

Abundant peace and blessings… Rev. Joanne

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Rev. Joanne Rowden
Rev. Joanne Rowden

Rev. Joanne Rowden is the senior minister at Unity Spiritual Center in Westlake, OH. She served as the minister at Unity in Edinboro for 13 years before taking on this new position on November 1, 2014. She lives in Hinckley, OH with her husband.

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