Oh hello... I haven't blogged in forever. BUT I wanted/needed to blog about something a pastor said yesterday. He pastors my home church but since moving I haven't found (honestly even started to look for) a new one in my new city. It's just so taxing to find a new community. Anyway.
So Pastor Lee just got back from short-term missions and his sabbatical in Cambodia and Korea (respectively). He said something that I haven't thought about in a long time. He said that people usually tell him that when they're doing short-term missions they're filled with this feeling that they can't describe. And he said it's joy. Rather than happiness. Because after they leave that place, it stays with them and permeates their respective lives.
I can totally testify to that. Additionally, I realized that's what has been missing from my life for a long time. And as he was talking, I remembered how great I felt during the number of times I've done short-term missions. The first time I went in grade 7 to Mexico opened the door to my love of Latin culture and wanting to learn Spanish til the last time in 2009 in Cambodia. As I got older, I was given more responsibilities not just in terms of leadership, but with caring for people and spiritually. It stretched me but in the best way possible. And the joy lasted for so long...
After being disconnected from a church body for about six months the difference between happiness and joy have become very apparent to me. I experience way more mood swings and it's because I don't have that amazing underlying joy but rather fleeting happiness. I can give love to others but because of the lack of love that I have for myself (and therefore not feeling the grace that I know have and receive daily) I am unhappy and not filled with joy.
I can't explain the difference really. Just that joy doesn't really depend on feelings; rather, it is a lasting, peaceful, content feeling. Words don't really do it justice. You can have joy but experience "negative feelings" as well. I remember the first time I realized that I had joy while actually experiencing it (rather than just looking back and realizing that I had joy). In that moment, I was also happy... Joy + Happiness = Absolutely amazing.