What’s The Big Deal About Finding “Joy”?
The latest craze on Netflix that has seemingly taken over American households is none other than the new reality show featuring Marie Kondo and her expertise on how to tidy your home, no matter what point of life you might be in at the moment. “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” has struck the hearts of many moms desperate for a solution to straightening their homes and creating environments that are peaceful and minimal (if you don’t have Netflix, her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has become incredibly popular and goes into more detail on her “method”.)
The key focus goes beyond just tidying and cleaning up, however. Marie Kondo emphasizes the importance and value in searching and discovering what truly brings you “joy”. Items that “spark joy” are kept and lovingly given a place of value in the home; things that do not bring that joy are removed with a thank you and loving placement in the “giveaway” bag. It’s a seemingly straightforward task.
What Does It Mean?
But ironically, understanding what “sparking joy” can actually mean for each individual isn’t quite so easy. Many people struggle with “letting go” and separating their idea of “necessity” from “joy”. It’s so easy to confuse attachment with joy – in watching the Netflix episodes, you can see the obvious struggle people face in the beginning. From painstakingly picking up every single clothing item to rummaging through personal items, you can see how challenging it is to take an honest look at one’s belongings and ask the simple question: Does this bring me joy?
Let’s take a closer look at the actual meaning of joy. “A feeling of great pleasure and happiness” is the generally accepted meaning, but the word takes on a new power when you look at synonyms for the word “joy”. Delight, euphoria, bliss, ecstasy, radiance, and triumph are a few that our thesaurus gives us. These words incite quite a different reaction in me personally than just the word “happiness”. These words create an experience, one your entire being reacts to.
What Does It Feel Like?
When was the last time you felt euphoria (I choose this one because I just love the way the word sounds)? I can maybe guess at some answers:
- your first kiss
- your wedding day
- the pinnacle of your athletic career
- when your favorite team wins the World Series/Super Bowl!
You get the picture! Typically, feeling euphoric comes from some kind of once-in-a-lifetime/rare experience that you have fully invested yourself. As a mother, the birth of my children comes to mind (not the labor part!). The feeling of holding your child for the first time after months of carrying them inside you, and knowing what you just accomplished is one of my most euphoric experiences.
But how do you apply that type of bliss to clothes? Or dishes, or tax papers? Furthermore, what impact does that have in your life?
When it comes to household items and the things you’ve lived with daily, it’s no easy feat making decisions on what brings you this kind of joy. After all, we aren’t accustomed to looking at a shirt and asking if it makes us happy! It’s why this process is so fascinating because you slowly watch how your life becomes simplified as you focus more on what place an item has in your life rather than how much or how little you have. But it’s not really the items themselves so much that create the joy and peace we crave in our lives. It’s the anticipation of what simplifying and tidying up our homes will bring to our day to day life, and then ultimately, acquiring that peace.
Will It Last?
Happiness can be fleeting; it can change hourly according to what is happening in your life. Take my life, for example! This morning I wrangled my three children ages 4, 2, and 1 into the car to drive us to the local YMCA, so I could take a yoga class. Was I happy after the yoga class? Absolutely! It calmed me down, I was able to exercise my body and my kids were safely being looked after in their Adventure Center (ok, two of them were having fits but they survived and I didn’t have to handle them for an hour).
Flash forward an hour and a half later to lunch, where I’m cleaning up poop that’s running up my 1 year old’s back (because they still haven’t figured out how to make diapers that contain the poop), getting lunch made and on the table while the 2 year old is screaming for a reason I just can’t possibly figure out, and then mopping up juice that said 2 year old somehow reached up onto the counter to pour over himself, the cabinets, and the floor. Was I happy? Not in the slightest. My previously acquired peaceful state of mind was far gone at this point. Happiness is fleeting. Joy is permanent.
The World’s Joy vs God’s Joy
Seeking joy in our homes doesn’t just concern what clothes we keep in our closets or how many bedsheets are in our linen closet (with 7 people in our house, we have more than the average family, I’m sure). When I started to “KonMari” our home, I started thinking about how this new “fad” could possibly be connected to the joy the Bible talks about. The KJV Bible mentioned the word “joy” 102 times in the Old Testament and 63 times in the New Testament. Joy is one of the Fruits of the Spirit that the apostle Paul mentions that resides in us and is a gift from the Holy Spirit.
A gift. A treasure. Something to be valued and upheld, just as we should value the home we live in. Because when it’s all said and done, a clean and tidy house demonstrates just that – a place you value and treasure, a place you want to live in and raise family. The joy we have in us comes by association of the Holy Spirit, and it never goes away.
The world offers joy through many means (success, materialistic items, adventures) and many people consider it to be the same as being happy. They search for years for the elusive “happiness” and remain discontent during their search. Many people think they find happiness in a job, a person, money, a new home, a better car, etc. – and are confused and saddened when that feeling doesn’t last. They are searching for the wrong feeling, the wrong emotion, and ultimately, their search is in all the wrong places.
The joy found in Christ and given to us through the Holy Spirit is the kind of “happiness”, “bliss”, and “ecstasy” that will never go away. You will always have it, even amidst trials and sorrows. Nehemiah wrote, “The joy of the LORD is your strength” (Neh 8:10) and there is no comfort as knowing that whatever life may bring, we will never have to fear losing our joy, for “all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy” (Psalm 5:11). It can be so hard to remember that, as your days may be dark and filled with sorrow that you just can’t seem to overcome. In God’s “presence there is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11) which is why only Him, and Him alone, can give us the strength needed to not only overcome our sufferings but to never lose our joy and hope.
So “KonMari” away, or whatever method you use to tidy and organize your home (I’m still afraid to tackle my basement). And as you analyze what brings you joy, “may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Rom 15:13).