First of all, MERRY CHRISTMAS! (I wrote this early and scheduled the post).
Now, two weeks ago in my counseling session I was asked straight up, "do you believe it is ok to be angry or sad for a long period of time?" I don't know if it was my response, "how long?" or the fact that I challenged what angry and sad meant, but the following week she handed me a sheet of paper with definitions and symptoms for the major 5-6 emotions.
Tell me you've seen INSIDE OUT. It's the same thing, those are real emotions that are considered some of the basics in the human person.
We looked it all up and down and we talked about some moments I brought up when I was clearly angry, or disgusted, or sad. I could tell that's what they were because I had my handy definitions sheet now. Only, I had a problem with the concept. All 6 of the emotions seemed to be presented on a level playing field. I don't think they should be. I think we are called to live in JOY, with all the other emotions taking their turns, but never taking over completely.
Today, we celebrate Jesus being born, the light coming into darkness and offering a way of life unlike any other. This way brings me great joy; it is difficult, but the more I understand it the more joyful I find I am in almost every situation.
Standing in line at Wal-Mart - I find something funny, I am amused by the conversation ahead of me, I've even been known to pick up the Archie Comic and chuckle once or twice
Stuck in traffic - it's a great chance to listen to some dynamite podcasts, or music, or NOTHING.
Facing death or significant grief - there's always something fun, even in the darkest moments.
We need laughter. We need joy.
We need a generous acceptance of the way things are so we can move ahead with joyful expectancy of the better things still to come.
Joy is a choice. You have to choose to be joyful. Do not hide the other emotions, but try inviting Joy into your life more often. You may notice yourself seeing the best in everyone and every situation, you may laugh louder and more often, you may seek to make others laugh and smile rather than argue with you or get mad with you.
Today, may you be filled with Joy!
Post-Script: My mother's middle name was Leslie, which apparently might mean 'Joyful', so we gave our daughter who was born just after my mom's passing the middle name 'JOY'. Most nights I pray that she continues to bring joy to our family, that she sees that as a gift she has for the world, and that her joy at some point is clearly rooted in the fact that God loved us first.