The Definition of Joy and What it Means For Your Joy to Be Complete

Definition of Joy and What it Means for Your Joy to Be Complete

The definition of joy in the dictionary is: The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something good or satisfying. A source of keen pleasure or delight.

Joy…. I struggled with that word. To me it meant being in a euphoric state, brimming with a smile from ear to ear. These moments I found to be rare.

I hate to admit it but I am way more serious than I need to be. I don’t know what caused this intensity. I know that I’m wired to always want to be achieving. But at the same time, I would consider myself to have a tremendous sense of humor.

Being raised by a British mother, I was exposed to a broader range of comedy like Monty Python and other forms of British humor. So, laughter is cause for delight, but it’s not the “complete” joy that Jesus talks about.

Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”  John 15:11 (NIV)

Okay, that sounds great to me, but what does that mean? How does one find joy?

Since I am starting to understand what that verse means, I am able to explain what joy feels like. I am now aware that I do feel joy and feel joy more often. My hope is that you will recognize and feel more joy too.

What Joy Feels Like

In some respects, it does feel like wanting to grin from ear to ear. But joy is not an outward feeling. I have determined that what I feel on Sunday is joy. I call many Sundays a bottle day. I will tell my husband Robert that I want to put these days in a bottle so that I can keep them and hold onto them. I have this feeling of not a care in the world and a feeling of lightness. What’s interesting is that those days are more often than not on Sunday.

You see, I unplug from the Internet on Sunday. I make no plans that are work related. I would like to say 100% that I am respecting the Sabbath, but it’s as much for my own sanity to take Sunday off. That’s because I work six days a week. But I know on Sunday I’m not working. Robert and I attend church where we sing in the choir. After, we usually walk our dog and if the weather is nice, we’ll ride bikes. I’ll cook a nice dinner, and we use that day to rest. It is truly a day where I don’t have a care in the world.

When I write or create something, I call it God’s downloads or dictations. Many creative people see themselves as a channel where God’s creativity flows through them whether they are an artist, musician or writer.

On Sunday, I have NO intention of writing, but this seems to be the day that God floods me with ideas and words to share. He not only turns on the faucet, but the fire hose! The reason for that is that I have left my mind, heart and spirit open. There’s nothing on the agenda. There are no bills to pay or appointments to keep other than church and perhaps a family get together. But for the most part, Sunday is a sacred day.

The feeling I have is that of expansiveness within my chest cavity where rests my heart. I describe it as a lightness, openness and spaciousness. My brain is not spinning with a million to do lists and demands. My mind is also open and free. For me, I now understand and describe that as joy.

What Jesus Was Telling Us About Joy

Jesus told us to not worry about tomorrow and how worrying doesn’t add a moment to your life. God provides for the flowers and the birds and how much more he will provide for us. Jesus was trying to tell us to lighten up on whatever earthly burdens we have and to turn those over to him. This lightness produces joy.

Joy involves letting go of those burdens, clearing your cluttered thoughts, clearing your schedule if possible and making just a few minutes of space. It is in space and stillness where God resides. When your schedule is full and your mind this full, you crowd out joy.

Finding More Joy

Pay attention to when you feel that openness and lightness. To be honest, until I met with my spiritual director and told him about my “bottle days,” he said, “What can you do to have more of those?” I had not thought of my “bottle days” as being joy. That’s when I realized that Sunday was the day that I felt joy the most.

To find your joy, clear out some time to be still. Still your racing thoughts, allow the peace of Christ, the joy of Christ to enter in. Turn your burdens over to God even if just for a little while to catch moments of joy.

I would also describe joy as watching your child sleep. If you focus on them, are sending them love and are filled with love as you gaze upon them that is joy. When you look at a magnificent sunset and just take it all in, that is a feeling of joy. When your dog comes to you and looks at you with eyes of love, wagging its tail, that is a feeling of joy.  

I am going to be conscious of creating more “bottle” moments. Joy is inner spaciousness, the expansiveness within your heart and soul. It is melding your spirit with God’s Spirit within you. Joy is a choice. May your joy be complete. Wishing you “bottle days” of your own.

Can you describe joy in other words than mine? I’d love to hear about it by leaving a comment below.

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6 Responses to The Definition of Joy and What it Means For Your Joy to Be Complete

  • Hi Sally,
    Love your insights. Thanks for sharing.
    Peace and blessings,

  • The Bible says that the joy of the Lord is my strength. I completely agree. Your thoughts on this topic were well stated. It does take a spaciousness or quietness spent in the company of the Lord to obtain joy. For me, joy isn’t an emotion or a choice, but rather a deep contentment given by the Lord. It is a fruit of the spirit. Joy isn’t a choice – like happiness. You can choose to be happy but you can’t choose to be joyful. Joy is a gift from God and it is free for everyone.

  • Hello Vic,
    Thank you for leaving such a beautiful comment! I LOVE every word that you expressed so joy-fully. : ) I hope that others will read these insightful words.
    The peace (and joy) of Christ be with you,

  • Thank you Jackie, for your candid and provocative insight. I have shared your problem with joy and I think it is because we are finite and have been redeemed and so have tasted of the infinite. I think there are two levels of joy depicted in John 15:11. Your comments are focused on the part of our “Joy being complete” but Jesus is saying this Joy in us us is contingent on HIS Joy being in us. Now this is a bit profound, the Joy of Jesus Christ in us!! In Christ we are able to experience His presence, His going before, His protecting our backside, His revealing His love, caring and providing needs we didn’t even know we had till they appear.

    There is a Joy in just being In Christ experiencing the walk in Him, knowing His resurrection power surpassing our expectations. I’m beginning to understand Joy in the security of being “in Christ”
    knowing He is loving and forever faithful even to someone like me.

    My problem is resting on my own understanding and as soon as this happens I’m out of the Joy mode.
    Acknowledging Him in all my ways, knowing He will direct all my paths … if I could just keep remembering this! So thankful He continues His work in me so I can experience His Joy walking in His light!

  • Hi Dawn,
    Thanks for sharing your profound definition of joy.
    Peace to you,

  • Joy for me is knowing I’m complete. In the middle of my most broken moments, restlessness, and wanting, when I am disappointed or have disappointed those who rely on me, when I am feeling less than, there is always a space in me that knows I am wonderfully and beautifully complete. This is my Joy.

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