Saturday, April 30, 2011

Contemplating Joy

So I've been reading this book, "Surprised by Joy" by C. S. Lewis. It is INCREDIBLE. I thoroughly, absolutely recommend it to anyone and everyone. It's basically about the shape of his early life, how he grew into the man he became concerning his religious beliefs. Anyways. It's fabulous. But I've been thinking a lot lately about joy, and what brings it... and he put it so eloquently, I decided to post it on my blog, slightly edited so it makes sense - I just took out what you have to read the book to understand, things that reference to his previous stories.

"It is difficult to find words strong enough for the sensation which came over me. It was a sensation, of course, of desire; but desire for what? Before I knew what I desired, the desire itself was gone, the whole glimpse withdrawn, the world turned commonplace again, or only stirred by a longing for the longing that had just ceased. It had taken only a moment of time; and in a certain sense everything else that had ever happened to me was insignificant in comparison.
It was an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished from both Happiness and from Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again. Apart from that, and considered it's only quality, it might almost equally well be called a particular kind of unhappiness or grief. But then it is a kind we want. I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power and pleasure often is."

Now, when I read this it just hit me so hard. I feel like he defined exactly what I have been struggling to put a finger on. Because joy is different - it's not in our power to create, it's not something we can force or concoct out of thin air. It's interesting in life how some things that may seem so glamorous and exciting turn out to be so disappointing and empty, when in contrast small, seemingly insignificant things bring so much happiness. I've found in my life that this joy comes from serving others, and serving God. It comes through having relationships and friendship, and in getting to know and building yourself. It comes from doing what is right, even when it's really hard. It comes from being true to yourself, and being honest (: When you have experienced joy there is nothing like it. It satisfies the soul. I think sometimes people find what they think is joy, when it really is just pleasure. There's no glorious meaning... it's empty.

Anyways, these are my deep thoughts for the week. I'm ecstatic to finish this book, and to learn more about it. This week has been awesome. As my thoughts turn ever more to the future, I always wonder to myself if I'll be able to find and keep that joy constantly in my life. I think I will. I know if I continuously do what I know to be right, things will always work out. I'll be able to keep and receive more of that joy, that fulfillment and satisfaction in my life. I am so, so grateful for good friends. They make a huge difference. I have so many incredible people in my life. I am very, very blessed. I'm going to miss Utah. But I am convinced that very, very happy things are coming in the future (:

What you see and hear depends a great deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are
C.S. Lewis


  1. It seems to me that what he defines as Joy may be a strong manifestation of the spirit. And I'm sure you can come back to visit Utah. It'll still be here.

  2. Yes, that is exactly what I was thinking. His novel is about his path to Christianity, and so that was his conclusion in the end as well. He ended by saying it wasn't as much the joy that was important, as it was more of an indicator of moving in the right direction.. it was an indicator of God. If that makes sense. Like a sign post pointing the right way. It was a very powerful read, I bet you would enjoy it. But yes, I will visit for sure. It just won't be the same. But to live is to change, I suppose