Joy is in the business of surprise.
I went through a very difficult parting of ways yesterday with the person, next to my children, I love most on earth. I’d seen it coming. And not coming. But it came nonetheless.
I went to bed feeling sad, angry, hurt. I woke up knowing it was for the best. An opportunity for discovery and growth, and perhaps, one day, a deeper, more lasting connection.
As I stepped outside this morning, I saw a robin. Spring, I thought. I looked up at the sky, pastel and full of promise. I heard birds chirping. Not the usual Muzak twittering, but a lilting prayer.
And then I felt it. Joy.
Why is it that joy so often surprises us? I believe it’s because we walk around expecting bad things to happen. Things like break-ups, a cancer diagnosis, a hit-and-run. We expect to be blindsided at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday. And, often, we are.
But we don’t expect joy. It frightens us. We’re afraid it will sneak in the back door, give us a momentary glimpse into Glory, and then leave just as quickly as it came.
And we just can’t afford to let that happen. Are you kidding? More pain? So we keep up our defenses. We guard against vulnerability. Vulnerability will chink our armor, and, if we’re not careful, leave an opening for joy to enter in.
Yep, you’d better watch out for joy. It’s sneaky. And terrifying.
In this interview with Oprah for Super Soul Sunday, Brené Brown talks about “foreboding joy” and why, she believes, it is the most frightening of all emotions:
So now I understand my “joy moment”. It broke in because:
I loved with my whole heart.
I am grateful, so grateful, for this person and all we have shared.
I confess it’s not easy to write about this very personal thing that happened yesterday. It’s not easy to write, period. It means being vulnerable and keeping a lookout. For joy.
Have you ever been surprised by joy? I hope you’ll share your story, below.