Thursday, October 29, 2015

Empathy for Those Who Cannot Find Joy

Have you ever been around a really happy person when you're just not feeling happy? It can be really annoying.

Yesterday I talked about this brilliant movie called Inside Out. There is this adorable little blue character called Sadness, and she walks around in a constant state of gloom. Her voice is soft and a bit Eeyore-ish. Meanwhile, Joy (Amy Poehler--so you can just imagine) is always up, always bubbly, always cheerful. She tries to steer Sadness away from...well, sadness.

There are times in the movie that Joy is actually irritating with her cheerfulness. I wanted to say, "Just let her be, Joy!"

Joy is contagious. But not always. There are, of course, the chronic complainers who just don't want to change. However, sometimes circumstances and events lead to a deep and lingering sadness or depression. Health problems, loss of loved ones, and financial strain are just some of the reasons people cannot find joy. Emotional or psychological issues, children lost to drug abuse, or caring for parents with dementia can add to the daily stress of a person's life, making it seem impossible to find joy.

Sometimes and for some folks, intentional joy is elusive. Choosing joy is just too hard.

Extending compassion and empathy for those who cannot find or choose joy is vital if we desire to live a Christ-centered joy-filled life. 

To exude joy is to show compassion, empathy, and understanding to those who are less joyful.

We can't ever expect anyone else to be in the same frame of mind, the same emotional, spiritual, or psychological place that we are, regardless of what that is. To do so would be self-centered and callous. While we want to encourage others to be joy-focused, we need to be understanding when they are not.

Jesus met people where they were. He offered hope. He offered peace. He offered a better life that would lead to joy. He always offered, and never insisted they "snap out of it," or "just choose joy." He understood. He listened. He cared. 

I want to emulate Jesus, don't you?

Blessings Along the Path,

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  1. This is a really great point. I've never thought about it was much in terms of being around those who are not joyful. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Kelsie. I hadn't thought of it either until someone told me that she works with a woman who is obnoxiously cheerful and I thought, "Hmmm, that could be me!" LOL

    2. Although I have never been accused of being "Obnoxiously Cheerful", there are times I am a tad envious of those who seem to be able to maintain a constant sunny disposition.

      Just wanted to thank you for your compassionate and refreshing piece on how to demonstrate grace and empathy for those who struggle with Joy.

      Stafford Edwards
      Ontario, Canada