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Joy After the Moment is Gone

I opened my eyes and sadness washed over me.

I couldn’t believe it. Here we were, on a family vacation, and I lay in bed the following morning sad. Our daughter had turned 13 a couple days earlier, and her dream birthday was to travel to Orlando to spend a couple days at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. She had read all the books earlier that year, and 13 years is a big deal. So, after confirming we could pay for it, we took the trip.

We had a blast.

In 48 hours of time together as a family, our daughter felt celebrated, and we had successfully marked her entrance into the teen years in a big way. So, why the sadness the next morning? Shouldn’t I be elated that we had such a good time? The trip had been brief, but it was a moment that should last, right?

I think it is unfair to expect a moment to be anything more than it is…a moment.

Our two days at the park were everything we’d hoped for, but only for those two days. The sadness I felt came because I expected it to last longer. A moment, though, is nothing more than that…a moment. Moments can be great, but when we expect them to be more, we set ourselves up for disappointment.

I have recently been studying joy—how to get it, where it comes from, how to stay there. There is not enough space to explain all I’ve learned. However, in the day to day, I am becoming convinced of one thing:

Moments are happy. Journeys are joyful.

Our ‘moment’ at the park was very happy, but it was only one piece of a greater journey. Journeys have high moments and low moments. There are straight, smooth roads and rough, rocky terrain. There are good days and not-so-good days. Joy comes when we can step back and see the bigger picture of how the moments string together. When the trip is over and the happiness is gone, joy can still come when I examine the journey and find…you guessed it…gratitude.

I lay in the bed that morning and did battle with my sadness by reminding myself of three ways I could be grateful:

Grateful for what I had...

I thanked God for the means and health to experience a birthday trip with my wife and kids. I thanked him for the happiness we felt for those two days.

Grateful for what I have...

I thanked God for my family and for a daughter, who in spite of her 13 years, still clings to her dad’s side. I thanked him for the car drive we’d have (which is something because I’m not a fan of long drives) because I would have another 8 ½ hours with my family in the car. I thanked him for my wife whose side business paid for the trip, and for my son who did a pretty good job allowing the trip to be about his older sister. I thanked him for my health, my relationships, and my salvation. The list goes on, but those were the highlights.

Grateful for what I would have...

I remembered there would be more moments, and I resolved to let those moments be just that, moments that would come in their time…or better, his time.

And…my sadness transformed into joy.

Our trip was still over. The moment was still done. But…I was grateful for so much.

If you are in the letdown after a moment has passed or anxiously awaiting the next one, find your reason to be grateful today. Take joy in the journey. This takes practice, so comment below and tell me at least one thing you are truly grateful for today.

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