Joy is a little bit hard to come by at the moment.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grip our world, anxiety and depression are on the rise. We’re isolated away from our support networks. Many of us cannot partake in the things that normally bring us joy, like sport or going out with friends.

Experiencing joy

Experiencing joy. PICTURE: Mi Pham/Unsplash

It is tempting to fall into patterns of self-pity, melancholy and even despair.

But as Christians, we are meant to be people characterised by joy – no matter our circumstances – because we have the knowledge of salvation and the assurance of eternity.

However, despite this knowledge, we still feel down sometimes. How, then, can we actually experience joy at this time? How can we, in other words, enjoy joy?

A friend of mine recently suggested that we become ‘curators of joy’ – collectors and distributors of things that bring joy to us and to others.

How do we do this?

Well firstly, we take notice of what makes us feel positive emotions at this time – emotions like contentment, thankfulness, happiness, peace and optimism. 

What brings joy will be different for each person. For example, a long afternoon snuggle with my cat helps me to feel secure and content, but some of my friends would hate such an unproductive use of time. Binge-watching a true crime series gives me (a strange sort of) satisfaction but leaves others feeling uneasy. 

Perhaps some of the following things bring you joy:
• Creating something with your hands
• Cooking or eating
• Stretching or doing a yoga routine
• Going for a run
• Playing with your pets
• Reading a book
• Singing a worship song
• Talking to your children
• Watching funny videos on YouTube
• Lighting a candle at sunset

As we collect our own sources of joy, we then need to seek them out in everyday life. Make space in every day for these activities, and maybe even invest a little money or effort in making them a priority.

Then, as an act of love for others, we can become distributors of joy.

I have witnessed many dear friends faithfully doing this lately. One friend is sending handmade cards and small gifts in the mail. Another is baking treats and dropping them off on doorsteps. Another is scheduling regular gaming video calls to enable friends to connect and play together. Another is filming herself reading picture books so that tired parents can take a break from entertaining their own kids and let them listen to her storytelling. 

My favourite thing has actually been seeing my mum do this. She’s been using her Facebook page to curate joy for her followers, by sharing videos and images that make her laugh or smile. And the comments from her friends have been so heartwarming. She is bringing joy to many others just through this small action.

How could you distribute joy to others as part of your joy curation? 

Yes, joy is hard to come by right now. But it is there! We might need to look a little harder and seek it out more intentionally, but joy can be found and it can be spread.

And even when the darkest times come, we have an everlasting joy in Jesus – a joy that will last far beyond COVID-19.