Nouwen on Choosing Joy

Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many joy seems hard to find. They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck? Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently than the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it.

What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice.


  1. I really like that encouragement to go on and make positive choices. Thanks. I remember you speaking of this too, in one of your sermons.

  2. Joy is what makes life worth living? Really? So what do we do when things aren't joyful? Shoot ourselves because life isn't worth living? Sorry, but I just don't think joy is what life's all about. If I know joy at all it's more like peacefulness through rough times. It's a gift from God that doesn't usually come from my own choices, but maybe the choice to let him be in control. I can't stand putting on a happy face. It just comes across as fake and icky. Isn't it O.K. to be sad, angry, human? I guess most people don't want to be around that, even me. Joyful sounds good, but is it more than a fleeting feeling? Being eternally joyful just sounds exhausting.

  3. Well fair or not, he isn't talking about happiness here, and joy doesn't always equal happiness.

    For me joy is a deep sense of well-being. Brings a smile to my face occasionally.

    And I don't think he means choices like just smiling or not frowning... But deeper choices like will we let bitterness rule us or anger, etc.

    Its our responses to life's events that can make or break us.

  4. I definitely agree with that - our responses to life's events. I like the way you put it. Is it more the action we take when faced with life's events rather than a feeling? Cause feelings are tricky little things sometimes, ruled by tiredness, harmones, vitamins, caffeine, you name it. It takes me days or longer sometimes to make deep choices. What do you do in the meantime with the anger, bitterness, etc? That's the hard part for me, that initial reaction.

  5. I love this. I'm trying to teach my 10 year old (and myself in the process) that so much of life is about how we choose to react. Love it.

    By the way, we talked blogs on John Gormley Live this morning and he mentioned your blog as one of importance in Sk. :)


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