You have probably heard of the show “Tidying Up,” where Marie Kondo shares tips on her #konmari method of decluttering and tidying up your home— and I love watching the series. But I have to tell you, I don’t agree with the idea of keeping only the stuff that sparks joy for you. In fact, I think we should stop looking for things to spark joy altogether.
Don’t get me wrong, Marie Kondo has great methods and keeps a much cleaner and tidier house than I could ever hope to achieve (at least while I have kids at home! Lol!), so I am not trying to be critical. But if I only kept the stuff in my home that “sparks joy,” I’d have an empty house— except for maybe a few pictures and sentimental items.
I’m absolutely not joking. My clothes— gone. Shoes—gone. Books—gone. Furniture—gone. Electronics—gone. Jewelry, yes, even jewelry— gone. It’s not that I don’t like the things I have. It’s not that I’m ungrateful. It’s just that none of the things in my home bring me joy.
So, by now you might assume that I’m a really unhappy person. But, actually, that’s not true either. I’m quite happy, and content, and my heart is filled with joy. Just not because any of the stuff that I own.
Things don’t bring us joy.
Let me explain it this way. I really like the beautiful wedding ring that my husband gave to me. I was very excited to receive it and I still admire how beautiful it is. And I’ll admit, when I first got it, it probably did spark joy. However, that excitement that we feel when we buy or receive something doesn’t last. It’s a “sugar rush” of sorts. The “joy” that a thing can bring is short-lived. I know this because if something happened to my husband and he was no longer a part of my life, that beautiful ring would not bring me any joy. In fact, it would probably turn into a very sad reminder of a tragic situation. Because the joy isn’t attached to the ring, it’s attached to my husband, who gave me the ring.
Have you ever seen a child open gifts at Christmas? Their face fills with pure “joy” to see a stack of gifts with their name on it! Then there is all the excitement of opening the gifts. And then, 10 minutes later, the new gifts are already tossed aside and all that “joy” has dissipated…
You see, things will never make us truly happy. Things will never bring us joy. Not true joy. Not lasting joy.
What is joy?
So what is joy? The definition of joy is a “feeling of great pleasure or happiness.” When we are only looking at joy as a feeling, or emotion, we need to find things or experiences to bring joy to us. And when the newness has worn off that thing, or experience—or even a person—we look for the next new thing to bring us joy. And, unfortunately, things and experiences, and people don’t have the ability to spark consistent joy for us. The joy they bring doesn’t last because feelings and emotions don’t last—and they aren’t supposed to…
So is there a way to make joy last? Can we have true joy in our lives that doesn’t fluctuate based on our surroundings— the people and things around us?
Yes. We absolutely can.
But, rather than looking for things to spark an emotional feeling of great pleasure or happiness, we must realize that this is not true joy. True joy is an inner peace and contentment that only comes from a relationship with Christ. You see, we all have a void in our lives. We may try to fill it with things, but, try as we might to find happiness and joy on our own, it will never quite fill that void completely. Why? Because when we look to things for our joy, we are looking at the temporary.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)
Things will pass away, and so will the feeling of joy that comes with them. Recognizing that the joy and contentment we desire comes from the one who created us is the answer allows us to focus on the eternal—and true, lasting joy.
What does the Bible say about joy?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”
Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
“…Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”
Psalm 28:7 (NIV)
The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
Psalm 19:7-8 (NIV)
Do you have true joy?