You are my joy

So my first quarter of being a third year ended with some surprises. For instance, I found out I don’t have to take a million prerequisites for my concentration in Video Games. That’s a relief, I didn’t know how I was going to get into all of them. Another was the fact that I can ALSO add a focus to my major, if I just take a certain set of classes where I have a choice in the matter. Yes, that’s right; I could graduate with a degree in Information and Computer Science focusing in Artificial Intelligence with a concentration in Video Game Technology and Culture. And if all goes well, that’s what it will be.
The last surprise wasn’t a pleasant one however. I got my grades back and I joined the D club. I knew Computer Graphics wasn’t my class, but I wish it was a bit more balanced. We were forced to use OpenGL in C++. I wish we were free to just use OpenGL in whatever language we were familiar with. Ugh, I knew going into the final I didn’t have a hot grade but I felt I dominated the final and was hopeful to get at least a C. Oh well. I have plans to retake it later, so I’m gearing up for round 2! Why should I regret the things I can’t change now? Oh that’s a good one, lemme write that down…
Overall, it wasn’t a terrible quarter. A, B, B, D. And I actually really enjoyed that class I got an A in. I’m taking it’s next class as an elective just for kicks next quarter!

Okay, anyway. Finals week was insanely fun. It almost didn’t feel like I studied(Mom I promise I did study). During one of our breaks, a discussion took over the apartment and we talked about a key characteristic of God in our lives. Does God make us happy? While our discussion was essentially the same point being argued from two seemingly conflicting viewpoints I thought it was really interesting. We, essentially, agreed upon the fact that, no God doesn’t make us happy in every situation in life but He does supply us with an underlying feeling of being fulfilled in a spiritual sense or even just the fact that He loves us. Temporal happiness is vastly different than an everlasting happiness, what we were just calling joy. Happiness, Joy, psh they’re the same right? I don’t think so, and I think that is why our discussion had us arguing the same point against itself.
So what is the difference between the two? Well, we were kind of on the right track in our talk. Happiness is kind of temporal, it comes and goes. Happiness is based upon circumstances that may or may not be in our control. The dictionary defines it as “a pleasurable or satisfying experience.” Happiness, read with the root of the word as ‘hap’ or ‘chance’, is an emotional response to our current status. This root of hap is very important, much of our lives and experiences are chance and luck and these experiences effecting our emotions is how we judge our happiness or lack of happiness.
Believe it or not, God didn’t intend for us to feel happiness all the time; there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). And weeping and mourning don’t sound too happy if you ask me.

Joy, on the other hand, is a state of being rather than a state of circumstances. This state of being can be found in a particular circumstance, but it is not limited to it. We can think of joy as a strong foundation built to support the healthy emotions, including happiness. The long-range evidence of joy is general gratitude, contentment, optimism, and a sense of freedom. When we are in joy, we are free to experience this elevation at all times and not just when life is going our way. Another difference from happiness, being in a state of joy doesn’t have to be induced by a positive experience.
James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Isn’t that amazing? We could be terribly unhappy going through trials, but we can be joyful knowing how these trials will shape us. How strong is that joy? How free are you when you can be so joyful during such hard times?

God knew that some circumstances would make us happy and others would make us sad, and that there is a time for each to affect us. But God also desires us to be joyful, to feel fulfilled, in all circumstances no matter what we might feeling emotionally. God gives us this joy because we are made complete in God’s love. And God’s love is forever, a constant love. That feeling of joy is the same euphoric emotion of happiness but it isn’t fleeting, it lasts long after the circumstances do. You might find this joy in your first child keeping you up at night for 3 months, or volunteering at a local youth group and having to help and deal with the younger kids and their drama, or maybe skipping your senior prom to help raise awareness about a war in Uganda with a bunch of strangers for five days, or that God is in fact real, He loves you and He wants to relate with you.

I might be very unhappy about getting a D in Computer Graphics, but I remain joyous throughout my college years simply because I love who I am growing to be, I fall in love with my friends over and over again, I marvel at the things I learn outside classes, and I know that everything will turn out just perfect in the end.

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