“The Joy of the Lord is your Strength.” I have often said that I don’t mind hard work, stressful work or long hours if I enjoy my job and have some fun. Most of the time I have been able to work like that. It is a real gift that I have enjoyed my jobs. I know people who really dislike their jobs but the result of being able to provide for their family or get ahead financially brings them joy. I suppose that is one way to recognize the fruit of joy: that what we do is enjoyable or the results give us joy.
At another level, Thomas Keating reminds us that joy is an “abiding sense of well being.” He goes on to reflect that it is about “being loved by God and being permanently established in His presence.” This inner peace can provide a deep security even when life, on the surface, is chaos. This kind of well being gives us power to cope, endure and exist in the most difficult of times. It might not be a pretty experience or path; however, it is one resting on God’s love.
This kind of joy gives us energy to live in the moment rather than be distracted by the past or future.
This kind of Joy abides in our soul where we encounter God and the Spirit. It is the crucial ingredient to discernment. There we can trust God is guiding our decision, our search or our experience. In my experience as a vocation director I have found the most mature inquirers are women who are resting in this peace and joy and trust God will help them find where they belong.