The other night I was watching an interview on Lary King with Winona Judd. She was talking about her current victory over depression which led her to alcoholism. She said something that I may never forget: "Now days when I start to reach for a drink, instead I reach for relationships." She went on to explain that healthy, loving relationships was what she always needed and did not have. Now her happiness is found in love with other key people that she allows into her life.
I have found this to be true as well. Joy for me is found in relationship to others who I am exploring what it means to give and recieve true love. Nothing matters more than relationships. Those who devalue relationships lose out on much of life's joy. Paul recognized this in his letter to some of his friends. They had a "special place in his heart" and were a constant source of joy in his memory bank. He could simply think of them and experience joy. Listen to the message paraphrase:
"It's not at all fanciful for me to think this way about you. My prayers and hopes have deep roots in reality. You have, after all, stuck with me all the way from the time I was thrown in jail, put on trial, and came out of it in one piece. All along you have experienced with me the most generous help from God. 8 He knows how much I love and miss you these days. Sometimes I think I feel as strongly about you as Christ does!" Phil. 1:7-8 (MSG)
Jesus taught us that the secret to joy was loving each other the way that He loved us. To lay down our lives for each other and serve one another in love.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:11-14 (NIV)
My joy is ultimately found when I listen to Jesus who leads me to live an others-centered life giving myself away in loving relationships with those He loves. I am glad that Jesus is showing me this again. My joy is expanding as I obey Him in this. Like Winona, I too am reaching for relationships.
May the Joy of Jesus be in you today and may your joy be full!