The joy that's yours

How a leaden burden was lifted from a woman's shoulders.

For Six months, I'd been deeply involved in several projects that my boss allegedly supported. But over and over again my proposals came back unread and unacknowledged. Finally, when asked to explain the most recent iteration, she liked what I'd written but needed clarification. I was told to come back in two weeks with revised proposals.

While I should have been elated, I felt sapped and discouraged. I couldn't understand why something that had seemed like such a slam-dunk had been continually stalled and second-guessed. I didn't have it in me to explain the ideas behind these projects yet again.

That night at home, I turned, as I often do when seeking solace and guidance, to the Bible. I came across a phrase in the book of John where Jesus tells his disciples in part, "Your joy no man taketh from you" (John 16:22).

As I pondered that phrase, I saw it applied completely to my current situation. My joy – which is my natural state as the beloved child of the all-good God – is mine forever. No man, circumstance, boss, or situation can take my joy away from me.

I saw that Jesus' promise asserted my God-given dominion over any negative thought that my happiness, welfare, or success was subject to the whims of others. My identity is intact: I am God's loved child, perfect and complete. My identity was not linked to my success at work or my ability to articulate any project.

I suddenly saw I'd been going about this all wrong. It was as if a leaden burden lifted from my shoulders, and I felt free and joyful again.

I remembered another phrase I love in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. It reads, "…joy cannot be turned into sorrow, for sorrow is not the master of joy…." (p. 304).

I reasoned that because being joyful is my natural state, I couldn't be mastered by sorrow – disguised as discouragement, self-pity, regret, or frustration.

I stopped seeing the projects as "mine" – with all the human will and pride associated with personal ownership. I rejoiced that God was shepherding these projects all the way, and that if it was truly right and good, nothing could stop it from naturally progressing to benefit everyone involved.

I stopped seeing the past situations as roadblocks and instead gave thanks to God for caring for these projects so completely. After all, perhaps what felt like a delay was actually the best thing for the projects, enabling them to go forward in the right iteration at the right time.

What a freeing, joyful evening of prayer I had. The next day, eager to throw myself back into the projects, I discovered newfound creativity and energy to address them in a fresh way. I worked closely with different departments so the final proposal could be more varied and comprehensive. All told, it was a happy process.

The result? Projects that were swiftly and completely approved. And, while I was thrilled with the outcome, I was more excited about the spiritual lesson I learned that nothing can take away my permanent, God-given joy.

Dwelling in Love that cannot change,
From anxious fear man finds release;
No more his homeless longings range,
God keepeth him in perfect peace.

In perfect peace, with tumult stilled,
Enhavened where no storms arise,
There man can work what God hath willed;
The joy of perfect work his prize.

William P. McKenzie,
"Christian Science Hymnal,"
No. 93.

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