These are my thoughts on the beautiful gift of joy. Joy can come from acceptance. I get joy from accepting there are just some things I just cannot change. Whatever happens is meant to happen. If it is intended for evil God will use it for good. Anxiety or sadness over something we cannot change or control will only decrease our joy. God is in the driver’s seat so relax and enjoy the ride. It is also important to accept people the way they are. There are no two people exactly alike and there never will be. There is beauty in our differences. I cannot expect someone to always act the same way I would, or have the exact same likes and dislikes as me. Everyone is a unique and perfect creation of God just the way he intended them to be. Why would I want to change something it is exactly the way God wants it? A rainbow would not be as beautiful if it were just one color. Wouldn’t the world be boring if we were all alike? When we accept one another’s strengths and weaknesses we are stronger as individuals and as a unified body. So much can be accomplished when we joyfully work together. Some people make the mistake of thinking they will be happy as long as things are the way they are. As long as they are healthy, young, rich, or any other thing they think will make them be happy. Things can and will change. True joy come from having faith that God’s will is being accomplished in any circumstance. Some people make the mistake of thinking they would be happy if only things were different. If only they had a new car, a different job, more money, or nicer clothes. Anyone who is always waiting for the next big thing will never be truly happy. One of the keys to being joyful is to appreciate the present moment. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, count your blessings. Be joyful now! This may seem shocking in today’s world, but life is actually not about being happy. It is about doing the will of God which will ultimately lead to a joyful union with him in heaven. If the Lord wills something in your life to change, he will give you the inclination and ability to change it. If you cannot change something that bothers you offer up your suffering to God. Take joy in knowing that there is always a purpose to your discomfort. When there is a purpose to your suffering you may see it more as God’s gift to you than a sacrifice to him. There is no greater gift than to be united with the suffering Christ for the sanctification of yourself or others. A normal person may wonder what they did to deserve trials. A holy person wonders what they did to deserve blessings. Joy comes from seeing everything as blessing, even suffering. No suffering lasts forever. God’s will and ultimate plan is for all of us to be happy in heaven with him. The only way this will not happen is if we choose to go against God’s will and do not want to be with him. If someone prays for God’s will to be accomplished and has faith that it will, they are following the right path. Of course joy cannot exist without love. To me love is the willingness to sacrifice anything except your soul for the one you love because they are more important to you than yourself. Love is sacrifice and sacrifice is the root of true joy. No joy can compare to the joy of giving. It is especially important for those in religious life to be joyful so we can draw others to Jesus, and perhaps even to a vocation. In today’s society a life of sacrificial love is almost inconceivable. Religious witnesses to joy and let people know that sacrificial love is possible and it can give them so much joy! A pure unadulterated joy that cannot be replaced by the shallow, temporary, happiness received from material things. It is so important for people, especially young people, to be able to see priests and religious men and women as visible witnesses of a joyful spiritual union with God. As Religious we are called to surrender our will, possessions, and bodies to God as Jesus did. Through this sacrifice we will bring joy to our troubled world and draw others to ourselves and the way of our Lord, Jesus Christ.