This bronze statue of a little girl playing with a flower stands in a shopping area in South Georgia. Every time I pass it it makes me smile. Her joy and passion for life are contagious. In her eyes I see curiosity and an innocence that nothing can tarnish. She exemplifies the naivety of childhood; she is a blank slate that only time and cruelty can harm.
When I saw her again this week, she made me think about the joy we experience in our lives. Some of that joy is simply a result of being alive, moving, and still able to think and act. Some of our joy comes from the people we love and enjoying our lives. Other parts of our joy comes from having something to do, somewhere to go, and someone to love. These are the joyful moments and treasures we experience as we grow up.
Then there are the joys we bring with us. The ones we carry inside and use to light up our souls. They are the joyful moments we carry in our souls. The times we were licked by a puppy, or the laughter we felt so deeply that we hurt ourselves. Our soul felt joy when we were hugged so deeply we could feel it down to our toes and we knew that we were loved no matter what. Joy adheres itself when we experience a sense of self worth and meaning beyond our own actions, when we are valued and encouraged beyond what we thought we could do. And we capture joy when someone sees us for what we can be and has no doubt that we can do anything we put our minds to.
Some of us know joy throughout our lives, others only have the opportunity to learn or experience joy later in life. Too many of us have horrible things to overcome and must shed the pain before joy is at home in our hearts. We know what that means, and yet the pain of what was prevents us from being able to truly absorb the joy we have as we become ourselves. We have to be willing to forgive and release the pain in order to replace the dark places in our hearts with enthusiasm. It’s a choice we make over and over again. We choose to allow joy to overtake the pain, which means we have to forget.
When we have the courage to allow joy to permeate our souls we give power to others to do the same. We have the power to choose the joy we carry with us, no matter what horrors are in our past. By giving up our pain it no longer has power over our thoughts, emotions, or the ability to water down our future joy.
I encourage you to choose the joy you will carry into your day. Let it surround your soul and permeate your smile. The impact it will have on your world is unimaginable.