Happiness is a fleeting emotion that can leave just as fast as it came. But joy is constant. Having joy makes your circumstances much more bearable.
We all go through different seasons in life. College, marriage, pregnancy, kids, work, et cetera. Sometimes those seasons overlap, and it can lead to really hard times. They don’t always bring happiness, but they can always bring joy.
We got married while my husband was still in college. That became a season in our life: trying to figure out married life while he was working and going to school full-time.
Three years into our marriage, my husband was still working more than full-time and going to school full-time. We also had two babies, with our third on the way.
My husband had to sacrifice time with me and his kids because after a long day at work he would have to do school. By the time he was done the kids would be asleep. It felt like a never ending cycle. Many days my husband felt alone in his struggles, and I felt alone in mine.
Those three years were one of the hardest seasons in life we have faced. But I remember even on the toughest of days I still had so much joy for my family and all I have been given. Even on those days when the school year felt like it would drag on forever and there was no end to the madness, I was still so thankful for good health, that my family is taken care of, and that I have an amazing hardworking husband. I might not have been happy with the day or my circumstances, but I saw the life we were building and felt peace about the direction in which we were headed.
This season in life seemed to last a lifetime while we were going through it, but I have already learned so much from going through it. First and foremost I learned that seasons in life will end. Take the good seasons in life, and focus on how they strengthen you and your relationships for future seasons of life—good or bad.
During the good times, you’ll see that joy and happiness can overlap. When my husband finally turned in his last assignment and was 100 percent done with school I felt so much joy AND happiness! I am so proud of my husband. He could have given up so many times, but he persevered and worked hard not only for himself but for his family as well.
I felt happiness in the moment but the joy I felt and still feel comes from a deeper place.
Happiness is a short lived emotion that comes and goes quickly. Look instead for joy in the many many amazing things you have in your life. Whether it is good health, a healthy family, seeing others around you grow and succeed, being financially stable, or having amazing friends around. Once you sit down and think about all the things you have, it is hard to not have joy in even the toughest of times.
During the bad seasons in life, be patient. It is easy to want and change your circumstances, but sometimes you just need to endure the bad season and grow through it. Most importantly, don’t base your joy on how much happiness you feel.