Have you given yourself permission to experience joy in life?
This may seem like an odd question, but it really is not. Some people need permission to be happy, as if they were punishing themselves for an inexplicable reason. Perhaps, they failed to meet their parent’s expectations or their own. Perhaps, they let external events dictate their inner life. Whatever the reason, permission has not been granted and they go through life grumpy and happiness remains out of reach.
Working as a chaplain intern back in 2011 in a psyche ward, I met a young man stuck in a very unhappy place with a very unhappy outlook. He invited me into his alternative reality as we spoke. He described a world where he was tortured and sexually abused; where other patients threw feces on the wall of his room; and where he was very disturbed. I looked around his room; made an obvious attempt to smell the place; and realized that he was delusional. Then, I asked him—what brings you joy? Immediately, he began speaking as if we had just entered a new room in his mind. Flowers were blooming; it was spring time; and he told me about the fun he had in his church youth group. He needed permission to be happy and I had given it to him.
Do you need permission to be happy?
The Apostle James writes: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (Jas 1:2-4 ESV)
Jesus himself advises us: Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matt 6:34 ESV)
Because the future is in Christ, our joy is complete and we have permission to express it each and every day.