Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity, nothing exceeds the criticisms made of the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed and well-fed. ~Herman Melville
Once upon a time … They lived happily ever after!
The typical fairy-tale beginning and ending… life nicely and neatly described, wrapped up and summarized with these statements. It is a fact though that real life lies between the statements… in the spaces where the periods (…) are. And the “real life” that most people lead cannot always be summed up so neatly with “…they lived happily ever after” because not all of life’s stories end like that.
Actually, living “happily ever after” does not indicate the end of life, but rather the end of some difficulties or challenges that have been resolved, so that from that point on, one lives “happily ever after”… Implying no more problems, difficulties or challenges will ever again be a part of that person’s life…
And that’s where the fairy tale quality comes in… because everyone knows that for as long as one is alive, in reality, there will always be difficulties and problems to encounter and challenges to overcome. That is just the way life is in our world.
But what if we tweaked the phrase a little? What if, instead of saying, “they lived happily ever after” we said, “they lived joyously ever after”? Can one live joyously in spite of problems, difficulties and challenges? Can one live joyously amid hatred and violence and war? Can one live joyously in spite of sickness or suffering or death?
While some might say, “No! It is not possible!” I believe that it is possible.
Living joyously does not mean that you always feel happy… It doesn’t even mean that you always like what is happening… because living joyously is an attitude towards life… a way to face what comes at you. It suggests a hopeful outlook, in spite of (whatever)… It means living courageously… It means asking for help when you need it, and giving help when others ask… It means trusting… It means not giving in to the fear and despair that can so easily overwhelm…
I don’t know about others, but I can’t live joyously on my own strength… I need help to live joyously… and my help comes from the Lord… from Almighty God… from the Creator of all that is… from the One who walks beside me through all of life’s ups and downs and to whom I look for strength and courage…
One of my favorite Psalms (Psalm 121:1-2) says it all:
“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
This is my story… this is how I try to face life… joyously ever after!!