I once worked with a woman called Joy (not her real name). She was in her Fifties but she looked like she was 35 without a single wrinkle on her face. She always had a smile on her face and was so pleasant. To be honest I actually doubted she was in her fifties until she showed me pictures of her married daughters and grand children (she had 2 I think). She worked in the Human Resources of the Bank I worked for and if you know anything about such organizations, you will know that people who work in HR deal with a lot and there is no way their work is stress free. Joy worked in HR but she was working with me on a CSR project I was managing which is how our paths crossed.  The fact that she managed to work with me on another project despite the demands of her daily role was also proof of who Joy was; a selfless, kind and thoughtful person.

When we initially started working together I decided that Joy must live a pretty good life, which is why she always seemed so cheerful, and probably explained her wrinkle free and youthful appearance. As I spent more time with her, I realised that I was completely wrong. The first time I noticed that her life wasn’t perfect was when she mentioned her husband and casually insinuated he was a philandering cheat. She then told me her daughters used to get so upset about it because they didn’t understand why she was so calm. She said a couple of things that struck me: “what can I do? He’ll face God on his own one day and he won’t be able to lie to God” and she also said: “I can’t let that man take away my joy or make me miserable, instead of getting upset, I will continue to be happy and find my joy”. That was a powerful lesson for me because this woman really meant it. She didn’t have a perfect life after all but she had made a decision not to let anybody take away the joy she had from God, not even her husband who had disappointed her.

Recently I have been thinking about Joy a lot and I am not exactly sure why. Maybe because we are in a time of social media where we are all trying to find validation with strangers and friends and until they approve of us, we can’t be fully happy.  I think I have also been privy to situations where people get so disappointed in friends and families who don’t live up to their expectations that they let those people control their joy and happiness. They end up doing all kinds of crazy things just to control the situation or to get attention and it boggles my mind. Why must our happiness be so dependent on others? I can relate though because for the longest time I was always trying to find happiness in places and people that I was never going to get it from.  I would always get hurt because people were just not living up to my standards and it was even more painful when I did things that I especially thought would get me praise and I’ll hear silence. The silence actually became way louder to me than anything they could have said and it made it impossible for me to enjoy my achievements and progress for the longest time.

I have now gotten to a point where I really do not rely on anybody but God as the source of my joy and happiness. The bible says in Psalm 118:8-9 “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.” I have learnt that even my husband no matter how perfect he is, cannot always give me the happiness and joy that I require because he is still a man and the truth is that people, no matter how perfect they are will always disappoint us.  So I started to just focus on God as the source of my joy and I have never been happier in my life. The other day, I went into my quiet room and the presence of God was so strong that I couldn’t stop laughing. Like I was laughing so hysterically that my husband had to call out to me to find out what the joke was about. I think he thought I had lost my mind. I then had to reassure him that I was good and he responded by saying: “it is you and your God abi?” I just couldn’t stop the joy that was coming from the bottom of my belly and I really understood it when the bible says: “in the presence of God, there is fullness of joy”.  God is my best friend, he is the only one I expect EVERYTHING from and the only one I know cannot fail me or hurt me and that gives me peace.

When our daughter passed away, a lot of my friends could not understand how I could still laugh and talk but the joy of the Lord was truly my strength and it still is. When we stop putting all our expectations on human beings to make us happy and we turn to God, we will not only find joy but we will also find peace that surpasses human understanding. I think that joy comes with the understanding of just how much God loves us; to the point that he sent his only son to die for us that we may have life and have it in abundance. That kind of love is honestly impossible to grasp but I have learnt to accept it and enjoy it and that is the source of my happiness.  Who is the source of yours? What if they did something that broke your heart? What would you do then? of course there are days when I feel unhappy and things just never seem to go right but in those situations, I am reminded that it is temporary and I begin to thank God in advance for making the situation better and I begin to enjoy his peace.

People are going to hurt you and disappoint you and you have to be prepared for that so that when they do you are able to forgive them because you didn’t rely on them as the ultimate source of your happiness. Don’t become so obsessed with the validation of others that you forget who matters the most.  It is in our Father in heaven that you will find your joy, which will be your strength when you fall victim to human error. This is why your relationship with God is the most important relationship you will ever have so what are you doing to nurture it and cherish it.  No one can ever love you the way he does so why expect them to give you the joy and happiness only he can give. Why don’t you be like my friend Joy and make a decision today that you will make God the ultimate source of joy and happiness and free yourself from the hurt and disappointment that people can cause you.