By: Dr. Lauren Charles, CVM Southeastern Region Representative

What’s Stealing Your Joy?  For almost a year, I’ve been talking to students, techs, and vets about what’s stealing their joy. It’s probably not a question you ask yourself regularly, but maybe we should. There are so many things, often little frustrations that add up, and other times real life events and crises, that steal our joy.

Busyness and exhaustion are my most common thieves. I haven’t had many serious trials in my life, but the everyday mundane tasks can bog me down like a wet blanket. I’m rarely trying to keep up with Joneses, but trying to keep up with the children, the laundry, the schedules, the emails, the meals (these people in my house want to eat three times every day!), the dishes, and all the tasks, robs my focus from Christ and the joy He brings. I need to practice the presence of God, as Brother Lawrence recommends, making every activity, no matter how mundane, an act of worship.

Sometimes, what others have does look nice though. Comparison and jealousy are so quick to steal our joy. For me, it isn’t usually some thing I see others have on social media that makes me covet, but some relationship that appears so healthy and perfect, or the time and freedom to do things I’d love to do more of like volunteer or travel.

For our littlest blessing Baby Paul, sickness seems to steal his joy. We rarely see the smiles of children his age yet, as he wrestles with painful reflux, and as his mother, watching him suffer steals my joy as well. Sickness can be such a thief, as we let the way we feel consume us. I’m so inspired by the dear examples in my life of friends who fight long battles with cancer but remain some of the most joyful people I know. What a beautiful testament to where their joy truly comes from.

Recently, doubt has been a thief in my life. When people are slow to register for our CVM retreats, will we have the numbers we need? When we don’t get the numbers we hoped for or expected, will it still be successful? When Angie is overwhelmed by homework at her new school, and it stresses the whole family, was this the right move for her? Am I enough to manage this household and ministry well? If things don’t seem to be going as I’d planned, is God really in them?

Maybe one of these resonates with you more than others. What they all have in common is that they’re circumstances, they all come from the outside. Happiness may be a mood dictated by what happens to us, but Joy is a Fruit of the Spirit that fills us from within (Galatians 5:22). Jesus said,

“Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.” –John 15:4

We cannot strive or work harder to have joy in our lives, we can only rest in our relationship with Jesus. Knowing Him is where true joy comes from.

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