Where joy comes from
A Christian Science perspective: The true source of lasting happiness.
Many people today are on a quest to find the source of happiness. Many desire to be happier than they are. Others struggle to lift themselves out of depression. The human heart so needs the fullness of joy that should, and can, be normal and natural to all of us.
Until one’s thinking is fundamentally transformed, no amount of outward change will bring lasting happiness. Nor can a drug, including alcohol, really make us happy. Happiness is a state of thought, so the change has to come there. Just as a musty room needs fresh air and sunlight, so our human consciousness needs the freshness of Spirit, the joy of divine Love.
Spirit, Love, is God, the true source of our being. As the Bible says, God created man in His own image. This means we express all the qualities of Spirit, all the goodness of divine Love. The Apostle Paul lists joy as one of the fruits of Spirit (see Galatians 5:22). In prayer we can turn to God, to acknowledge Him as our source, and to understand more fully the joy that comes directly from divine Love and is expressed in us.
One time, I was in a situation that was challenging because of the actions and attitude of another individual. I had been praying about it earnestly, and one afternoon an inspiration swept over me that all I had to do was love – that loving God and loving others spiritually would be my safety and the means by which I could accomplish what I needed to.
This was more than just a “thought” I had. It seemed clearly to be the effect of the Christ, God’s message of truth, speaking to me, and of the Holy Ghost, or law of Love, operating in my consciousness. It brought a depth of joy that I had never experienced before. All fear, resentment, and negativity vanished. I felt only an exalted sense of love, freedom, and sheer happiness.
The situation resolved itself not long after that, with sincere kindness expressed. But I continued to pray, in order to grow more fully into the understanding of Love that had brought that wonderful inspiration.
If we’re struggling with depression, or wondering whether life doesn’t have more to offer, it may not seem as if loving more would be the answer. But to love God, and to know ourselves and others as God’s loved, perfect spiritual ideas, begins to dissolve unhappiness.
Mary Baker Eddy writes: “The test of all prayer lies in the answer to these questions: Do we love our neighbor better because of this asking? Do we pursue the old selfishness, satisfied with having prayed for something better, though we give no evidence of the sincerity of our requests by living consistently with our prayer?” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 9).
Self-pity, self-centeredness, resentment, even fear begin to dissolve as love starts to characterize our thoughts. Unselfish, spiritual love brings a healing uplift that nothing else can. From love comes the joy of knowing we’re embraced in God – in the beauty and peace of Soul, the overflowing goodness and care of divine Love. This is true of all of us, God’s ideas. And such rejoicing brings healing – the outward proof of the spiritual truths we’re rejoicing in.
To Christ Jesus, love was central to Christian practice. He said: “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:9-11).
To the degree that we follow Christ in cultivating a Christly, spiritual love for others, we are filled with joy – it can’t be helped!
Mrs. Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science in the hope of bringing healing to all humanity, writes in Science and Health: “Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it” (p. 57).
We all can learn and feel this love, and demonstrate it more and more in our daily lives. We can learn that our heart overflows, not by others pouring love on us, but by the love we ourselves express. With every patient step of progress we experience deeper and fuller joy, which cannot be taken from us.
This article was adapted from an editorial in the Oct. 12 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.