Discovering Joy Inspite of Myself

Melanie Jean Juneau

I discovered  joy in the most unlikely place, in the midst of suffering.

Years ago, joy eluded me. Living in poverty, united with a husband struggling with depression and surrounded by the clamour and demands of nine children, I was stretched to my limits of endurance. Lack of sleep was part of the reason that most of my inner walls of defense crumbled and hidden, inner demons tormented my dreams. I felt my emotional pain physically, as though a dagger had pierced my heart.

It was easy to picture myself as a victim.

It was easy to let go of my innate optimism and sink into moments of self-pity.

Yet, I did not want mere happiness. I knew that there is a world of difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is dependent on circumstances but I knew that it is possible to dwell in joy, even in the most dire of circumstances. To me happiness is a fickle, surface emotion that is fleeting at best, impossible to even touch when I am surrounded by difficulties. Yet it was precisely a life filled with difficulties and yes, I could even say suffering, which stripped away my inner stumbling blocks to joy.

It was a Catholic psychiatrist who taught me how to access the joy that is rooted deep within all of us, the joy that is ready to bubble up, instantaneously, if only we take a moment to connect with it. I learned that I can choose to live in my thoughts and my surface emotions which are dependent on what I am doing or seeing at that precise moment. However, if I take off my dung coloured glasses and look at reality, I can be grateful and somewhat happy and content. This is Cognitive Therapy which basically says that thoughts proceed emotions.

However, if I delve deeper, often my wounded self rises up and once again I can plunge into pain again.

At the snap of my fingers, I can look even deeper,

deeper than my thoughts,

deeper than my emotions,

deeper than my wounds and

touch my inner spirit,

my core self,

the self that is united to the eternal God.

Immediately joy, pure bliss bubbles up and I can laugh, even as tears dry on my face.


My spirit is made up of the very same stuff that God is made up of, so when I open my spirit to him, his joy and life and strength immediately flows into me.

I do not have to be perfect.

I do not earn this joy.

All that is needed is the humility to realize that I cannot survive on my own strength and then ask for his strength and his life giving joy.

Finding joy, living in joy is as easy and as difficult as that.

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22 thoughts on “Discovering Joy Inspite of Myself”

  1. Pingback: A Prophecy: The Vocations Crisis Is Over -

  2. Wow. That is an awesome attitude. I’m an atheist and I wish what you managed to set your mind on and gain strength from were real so I could believe in and rely on it too.

    1. melanie jean juneau

      O course this can happen to you; God loves a challenge. Try an experiment and you won’t be disappointed. As for me, I did not “manage to set my mind and gain strength'”, rather, the change in me was a little miracle. I was surprised by joy. This breakthrough had nothing to do with will power but was an example of surrendering to the Holy Spirit when I was down and out.

    2. So the experiment is to surrender to the Holy Spirit? What if the mere act of doing that fills me with a delusion of peace and joy? Am I to suppose that I have experienced God’s presence?

    3. melanie jean juneau

      HARDLY; when God shows up, you KNOW that you KNOW. I saw a conversion first hand on July13 2012. as I sat beside a brilliant young friend who was a confirmed atheist,( although when I asked what he had read on spirituality or Christianity he simply replied, “The library”!)
      We were praying while Davin relaxed on the margins of the group when he suddenly started to laugh. Our eyes popped open in surprise. The quiet, subdued young man was beaming.
      “I’m hot all over, especially inside my chest. It is like a glowing, warm, golden mist that’s all around me, inside of me…but it was there all the time; I just couldn’t feel it or see it. It’s like all of a sudden I am plugged into a circuit board of power that has been here the whole time.
      God is real. He exists. I can’t believe it. Why did I not see something all around me, in my face? I feel this energy flowing between everyone in this room and connecting to me as well, like electrical currents,like invisible bands or cords. I want to jump up and down and start yelling on the top of my voice that God exists and He is right here.”

    4. melanie jean juneau

      Of course, you are right; we often delude ourselves with what we assume are mystical experiences but the “proof is in the pudding” or to use biblical terminology, the proof is in the fruit of the person’s life. In this case, the result was a dramatic turn around. It was an encounter that changed him from a sceptical, sarcastic, atheist to an onfire believer in an instant.

    5. I once said that real fruits don’t come from an imaginary tree. That person’s life changing experience certainly seems real and how can something so real come from something that isn’t real?

      I’ve gone to healing masses with my wife both when I believed and when I didn’t and I have watched her and the others as they are supposedly slated by the Holy Spirit. I see it as mind over matter. That’s the way I see all of this. But their lives are better because of their experience which they can have over and over again. I don’t buy it.

      Sorry I am so skeptical. It must be frustrating trying to convince someone of what you KNOW is true. I have the same situation in reverse.

    6. melanie jean juneau

      laughing- what a conundrum we are in. I think i would like you because you are ruthlessly honest, intellectually astute and a wise observer of human nature. You used to beleive? Doubts and intellectual questioning is on one level of our being, a social, soul character with emotions on another but a wager that just like me , your core self , your inner spirit which came from God and is made of the same stuff as God, knows Him.

    7. If I had naming rights to what I believe God to be if there is one, it would be more like what Carl Sagan described as the Cosmos. My God didn’t have a chosen people who it led out of Egypt by parting the Red Sea. It didn’t become human and sacrifice itself to itself to redeem us of some sort of original sin. It doesn’t become present in consecrated bread and wine and it doesn’t judge us as to how we have been faithful to it.

      It is the intelligent designer that my fellow atheists deny exists.

    8. melanie jean juneau

      A quote from Thomas Merton comes to mind. “Many who consider themselves atheists are in fact persons who are discontented with the naïve idea of God which makes him appear to be an ‘object’ or a ‘thing’ in a merely finite and human sense.”

      It was also a problem of “Believers” who had substituted comfortable, cultural illusions and cheap grace for authentic discipleship. The faith that has grown cold, he wrote, is not only the faith that the Unbeliever has lost, but the sentimental, false “faith” the “Believer” has “kept.”

      We do not have to choose between faith and science, Merton argued, nor between Christ and the World. In fact, we can only choose Christ by choosing the world as it really is in Him and encountered by us in the ground of our own personal freedom and love. God is not an object, thing, external reality, or Gran Dame, but being itself—one with the ground of each us. “Atheists” exist in God, just as Christians do; they just do not call the ground of their being God—if they call it anything. This is where a dialogue with them might begin.

    9. they just do not call the ground of their being God—if they call it anything. This is where a dialogue with them might begin.

      I don’t accept the “Heavenly Father” image of God. I am presently going through the same ordeal as the father in the story of the Prodical Son. My younger son has disowned his family and my older son has told me that I should just forget about him. He actually thinks the older son in the story gets a raw deal.

      The story of Jesus in the Gospel resonates with people and draws them in much the same way that his stories resonated with those he preached to in his story. It is an inspiring story about a man who told inspiring stories.

      So there was a man who inspired people with his stories and people told stories about him. That doesn’t mean that any of the stories are true. It just means that they are inspirational.

      Have any of your children died or disowned you. To me there is not much difference between the two except that there is hope for a Prodigal Son ending for the latter.

      Have you experienced the pain of losing one of them?

    10. melanie jean juneau

      I have learned that the people who feel uncondtional love from us are the ones who also lash out and try to hurt us becasue deep down they know that we will still love them. My last post describes family pain and anger as skeletons came out of our family closet, shocking my husband and I and threatening to shatter our family. Things are settling down , though know that God’s light is shining in the shadows to bring healing. It is messy but worth it

  3. “However, if I take off my dung colored glasses and look at reality, I can be grateful and somewhat happy and content”. I used to think I could find reality in the bottom of a beer can!

  4. Thanks for your post. There seems to be an inner passage way to joy that suffering provides. In some ways it is the ecstasy of catharsis. Like Eros turned into Agape perhaps. To find this passage is a gift. God has opened the door for you. His welcome is extraordinary. Please continue to tell us about your encounters with the Source of your joy. He is ours as well. He is Our Father.

    1. melanie jean juneau

      I just might have to adopt your comments and make them my own because they express my sentiments perfectly…”There seems to be an inner passage way to joy that suffering provides”- thank-you

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