Learning to Share Joy

While reading Han’s Christian Andersen’s The Old Street Lamp, I stumbled across this quote: “Joy that we cannot share with others is only half enjoyed.”

Perhaps the reason it jumped out at me is because I’ve been focusing on community and the importance of sharing our lives with others and I just forced out the most difficult post for Devotional Diva on living together (which you’ll be able to read in a couple of weeks).

And there are those words. Mocking me. Haunting me.

“Joy that we cannot share with others is only half enjoyed.”

I once had a co-worker ask me, “Don’t you get excited about anything?”

My initial thought was, “Well, of course I get excited.” And I do. On the inside. But it takes a pretty big event to get me jumping up and down.

Maybe I don’t share joy very well. And while this frustrated my co-worker to no end, I was never really bothered by this fact until I read that quote.

“Joy that we cannot share with others is only half enjoyed.”

What if I’ve only been half enjoying my life? What if I’ve only been half enjoying yours? And what would happen if I learned to finally, fully share my joy?

Because I’m pretty sure I have friends who get more (outwardly) excited about events in my life than I do. Just yesterday I had a friend ask me what the current word count on my novel is and when I answered him, he smiled real big and said, “Whoa, that’s a novel.”

And I casually responded, “Yeah, it’s coming along,” when the proper response was probably something more like, “OH MY GOSH, I KNOW! Isn’t it awesome?”

Because I have a right to get excited. I have a right to express that excitement.

I have a right to experience joy to the fullest by daring to share it with others.

My joy. Your joy. I’m ready to “enjoy” it.

So please, share your joy with me in the comments so we can both experience the full measure of joy.

"Joy that we cannot share with others is only half enjoyed."

Part of that World

Maybe it’s because I’ve been at the ocean for the past week, but lately, I’ve been having these Little Mermaid flashbacks. There’s something super mysterious about the sea. When I try to imagine what lies beneath the cresting waves, I get a headache. It’s that mind-boggling. That must be how the Little Mermaid felt about dry land. There was so much world waiting to be explored – so many things that needed to be discovered… And she discovered it, all right. According to Disney, she left everything, sacrificed her voice, and landed the prince. Life is good for the Little Mermaid, right? Not the way Hans Christian Andersen tells it. But since you can’t tell a little kid that the fairytale heroine sacrificed greatly, felt tremendous pain, and eventually died without ever achieving her intended goal, Disney decided to give “Ariel” a happy ending. And while I have a few things to say about Hans Christian Andersen’s version, I’ll save that for a later date. Today, we are talking about Ariel and the way she took the wrong approach to love.

Ariel pops up to the surface, takes a look around, and sees something she likes: Prince Eric. That, in itself, is not bad. The bad stuff happens when she starts obsessing over it. As Sebastian would say, “Ariel thinks the seaweed is greener in somebody else’s lake.” Her entire mind becomes wrapped around the fantasy of what it would be like to become a “part of that world.” Then she does the unthinkable. She contacts the sea witch, sacrifices her voice and risks everything for one chance at becoming “part of that world.” Luckily for her, it worked out in the end. Not only did she land the prince (pardon the pun), but she frees the merpeople from the influence of the evil sea witch by vanquishing her forever. But what if she hadn’t fared so well? What if her story had kept the ending of Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid? What would she have gained for all her sacrifice? Would the sacrifice have been worth it?

I can hear you now: “Heck no!” Why? Because the Little Mermaid had an entire ocean to explore. Surely she hadn’t ventured to every single corner of it, just as you and I have never covered every single square inch of the earth (and the ocean is twice as large as the land, just saying). The chances of her making a prince fall in love with her when she couldn’t even communicate the depths of her heart with him are slim to none. Had she failed, she probably would have spent the rest of her life thinking about how wrong she had been.

I feel like we are doing the same thing the Little Mermaid did. Here we are, swimming in the sea of singleness and not seeing how vast and beautiful it is. We are prematurely thrusting ourselves onto the shore of marriage and relationships. And we are more closely resembling the Hans Christian Andersen story than the Disney version we all long for. We deeply desire to become a “part of that world” when we were meant for the world we are swimming in here and now. Whether you were meant for the ocean or the shore is not for me to decide, but I want to leave you with this final question:

Is your final destination worth the sacrifice you are making? And would the pain be worth it if you didn’t get what you are seeking in the end?