PURE JOY [NOVEMBER, 2019 CEO CONNECTION]
“Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.” ~ Joseph Campbell, American Professor of Literature
Have you ever wondered why you can stay happy — and why sometimes you feel unsettled? Why you are always looking for the next best things, which might be a new girlfriend, faster car, more money, bigger home, and the list goes on and on. Does it make you wonder that when you finally get that raise or that new home, you are happy for a few weeks and then you are back wanting something more?
What is that driver inside of us that is always looking for something? I like to call it the hole that we were born with that we try to fill. We think we can fill this hole with addictions, more money, etc. For me, this was a long path to find pure joy.
Let me start by describing the difference between joy and happiness. I feel happy when something good happens; it feels good to me to get recognition or win a new project, but I find the happiness wears off quickly and it leaves me wanting more. The dictionary describes happiness as the state of being happy. To be happy, you need good things to happen all the time. When the good things stop and challenges start, I find that the happiness goes away. Joy, on the other hand, can happen whether there are good things happening in your life and bad things happening. James 1: 2-3 states: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
So now you might be asking how do you find the ‘joy?’ My journey started in the great white north state of Minnesota. During the winter, the temperatures were rarely above freezing, so it felt like we spent most of the summer preparing for the winters — with tasks like collecting wood, gardening, hunting, fishing, canning, etc. I thought it would be so great for us to get a gas-burning furnace as we wouldn’t have to chop, split, and stack wood all year long. Well, sure enough we got that gas burning furnace and I was happy for a bit, but then I went back to thinking about something else.
My family bought a lot of used clothes and stuff. It always took a long time to get anything started, so mowing the lawn or going on a three-wheeler ride was a long, drawn out process (yes, I am old because they were still selling three-wheelers). I set a new goal on working hard so I could buy new things and I wouldn’t have to work on them. So, I grew up and moved to Colorado to start working hard to get my new stuff. Well, soon after I started buying new things, I found that it made me happy for a bit but really didn’t give me that joy I was searching for.
I struggled with this and then God gave me a challenge that he knew would either break me or cause me to start figuring things out. We had our lowest point in Weifield Group; we weren’t landing any work and we had to lay off friends and core people. I asked myself stuff like, “Do we shut it down?”, “How do I keep going?”, “Do I have what it takes?,” etc. Along with this, I was also in the process of going through a divorce. God figured out a way to give me everything I asked for and now was threatening to take it all away. I had to come to the realization that I needed others and I needed him. This was the start of my journey to joy.
Did I have joy while this was going on?…no. But, what it did do was show me that everything that was going on was materialistic and wasn’t in my control. What I could control is how I interpreted things; this was a key step in finding my way to joy. Fast forward to a couple years ago, after I started adding so many things to my life, I felt like I was not doing a good job at anything. Asking for help from God, I found myself in peer group meetings, conversations, etc. which all were focused around values, goals, priorities. I knew what I needed to do, but life kept pulling me multiple directions and then… my wife’s dad had a seizure and was taken to the hospital. He had a tumor and needed to get it removed as soon as possible. On his way into the hospital he said, ‘Praise God.’ This is when it hit me. When I live for my needs, I couldn’t find joy, but when I live for the bigger picture in life, that is when the true joy kicks in.
We need our life stories and the challenges to really develop us as people — to help us teach one another. Now as I go through the challenges of life, I think of how I will tell this story to others and I can’t wait to see what happens next (good or bad). All of these things help build the future for us. At my wife dad’s funeral a few weeks ago, hearing about the joy he had made me smile. I know I am blessed and at 45 years old, I can experience this joy for many more years (God willing). God Bless!