Filled with joy

Without a word, just by being there, these flowers lift our spirits. Wouldn't it be nice if we could do the same?

Without a word, flowers instruct our hearts and lift our spirits with evidence of divine grace.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do the same?

“One filled with joy preaches without preaching.”Mother Teresa

So often, words are painful without being beneficial.  Most of us who say harmful things aren’t deliberately trying to hurt anyone, but we end up doing it anyway.  We may be trying to help someone else by pointing out where we believe the person is mistaken or wrong, but this almost always backfires, leaving everybody feeling worse.

I can think of many times when I’ve hurt people I love, or when people I love have hurt me, by saying things that were meant to help, but only ended up wounding.  What was intended to make a situation better only made it worse for all involved.  The best lessons don’t come from words, but examples.  This doesn’t mean we should not communicate through words, but it does suggest that we should be careful how we do it, and realize that conduct, not speech, leaves a more lasting impression.

Thinking about Mother Teresa’s quote, I realized it encourages us to focus on improving our own hearts and our own thinking.  If we do that, our actions will shine brightly and we won’t need to worry about correcting others with verbal instruction or criticism.

One of the most needed things we can do in this world is to radiate joy.  I’m not talking about a giddy insensitivity to the sorrow others may be feeling, but a steadfast inner peace that holds out hope even when things are not going well.  If we can show others through our own lives that it’s possible to choose joy in all circumstances, it will be more a powerful influence than thousands of words of advice.

What are some ways that we can “preach without preaching” by being filled with joy?

One year ago today:

Within our reach

28 Comments

  1. raynard

    Julia, I watched for years as my late mom”wasnt a women of many words”. She showed her love to people by 1 asking you when your birthday was and then send you a card. When she passed in 1990, as we went through her belonging, she had cards and stuff from the 1960’s.. She even saved all the Christmas cards she always received. Young people dont like”long talks or lectures”.. Short, sweet, simple, to the point is how you deal with some , not all. Make sure you positively encourage them and “keep it real ” as they say.History, Humor, trivia and my baking is where my talents are and I use them “For Him and not for me”..I pray that the encouragement of your blogs keeps spreading to me so I can spread it to others. ( Especially those “that didn’t quite make the lemonade from those lemons they ate.( and it shows on their faces lol) be blessed.

    • Hi Raynard, your mother sounds like a wonderful woman. I save almost all my cards and letters, and I need to go through them and digitize them all so they at least won’t take up so much space – the boxes are overflowing! But each one represents a person I care about and I’m sure your mother felt the same. Matt likes to watch a show called “Cake Boss” – have you ever heard of it? He doesn’t even eat much cake, much less bake them, but for some reason he loves that show. I’ve never seen it but it must be good. Thanks so much for your kind words about this blog! I really appreciate your presence here.

      • raynard

        Julia, I use to watch “Cake Boss, Ace of Cakes and even Chef Dana who is from Delaware btw. I get more enjoyment on Pinerest.( must be the”make up a plan as I go along/adapt and over come military mentally of mine. I’m doing a sugar free chocolate cake tonight( a first) and something else different and I’ll give you a sneak peek first when I get it all together as your encouragement of what I do is a blessing to me and others as well.be blessed

        • Raynard, I never heard of those other two. With all these channels there are so many shows but I agree with you, I enjoy Pinterest more. Good luck with your sugar free cake. My Mom made one of those by accident once – she served it and everyone said “Hmmm, something is missing” and she figured out she had left out the sugar. After that she called it her “Chocolate flop cake” but she never made that mistake again! I am sure you will put some sort of sweetener in yours. Are you going to use Splenda?

          • raynard

            Julia i found a cake mix and frosting that claims to be sugar free from Pillsbury( they both have splenda in them. I did use unsweetened applesauce and fat free plain yogart.it’s in the oven now and i will instead of frosting”take the frosting can “nuke about a minute in the microwave and pour over cake like a glaze.Making a bunt ccake so I can either fill the hole with frosting and then add some unsweeted chocolate pieces/bits to decorated it.. be blessed

            • I think the unsweetened applesauce will be a nice touch and will add to the sweetness in a healthy way. The yogurt too will make it richer-tasting while adding healthy ingredients. I never would have though about nuking the frosting to make it pourable. My problem with frosting is — you guessed it — avoiding the temptation to eat it straight out of the can! That’s why I never buy any. 🙂 Good luck with the results!

  2. Truly, a happy little child who doesn’t utters a word has so much to teach us.

    • Sarvjit, that is so true. I am learning all over again from our grandson who is nearly 7 months old and not talking yet – but teaching us SO MUCH about joy! Thanks for being here.

  3. KJ

    To say I love this post is a gross understatement. Simple and powerful. I attended a different church this past Sunday and the message was about joy and the example joy shows to the world. I guess God’s still speaking to me on this. Thanks!

    • KJ, thanks so much for this wonderful compliment. I am so happy you like the post. I have noticed how sometimes I seem to hear many things on the same theme in a short period of time, and I always wonder if God is trying to get my attention!! If so, it works 🙂 but in any case, it makes me feel very happy that you found the post beneficial. Thanks for being here!

  4. Julia, I think you’ve answered your own question beautifully. Living a joyful life means being open, honest, caring. Those traits in turn, let people know they are safe with you.

    • Thank you, Alys! It’s so important to feel safe with a person. I know many fascinating people that I enjoy tremendously, but just don’t feel as if I can be totally myself with them. I always thought that must be more a result of my own insecurities, but whatever the reasons, I am so appreciative of those people I do feel I can relax with. I can count on them to be a source of strength to me in whatever I’m facing. It’s a gift that not everyone has, this ability to put people at ease — but those who do have it are an incomparable blessing! Thanks so much for being here with us!

      • I know what you mean, Julia. Finding those special friends that make you feel at ease is a gift. I think we give and get different things from different people, but over the years, and especially in my early years, I found it hard to relate to a lot of people. It made me feel isolated and like the oddball. Once I found my voice, my center so to speak, I was able to find more like-minded folks. It feels wonderful.

        • Yes, I think finding one’s voice has a lot to do with age and experience bringing some measure of confidence. At least it has for me. For the longest time if I didn’t relate to someone I automatically assumed it was my fault, not considering whether it could be anything unusual about them. So many of us, it seems, feel different and apart at some point in our lives. One thing I loved about living in northern California is that there seemed to be less of that type of intimidation there. Matt, for example, had much more acceptance in high school there than he did in Virginia. He wasn’t condescended to or treated like a mascot; he really was part of his community. We couldn’t go anywhere in town without hearing someone greet him enthusiastically; everyone seemed to know him. That was just part of the NorCal culture, I think. As I used to tell people, “In San Francisco, odd is beautiful.” But I think odd can be beautiful anywhere.

          • Odd *should* be beautiful everywhere. Living within a diverse community breeds acceptance and conversely, living in a homogenous society limits ones exposure to a variety of people. We come in all shapes and sizes. My hope is that one day the world can embrace ‘different’ as they do the ‘norm.’

            • Yes, I always wonder what talents, gifts and ideas are never developed because people are so afraid of being laughed at, put down or snubbed. It seems to me that more people than not have had times when they felt intimidated or ostracized, even if others didn’t realize it. I think basic kindness and courtesy can go a long way toward healing those types of hurt.

  5. Sheila

    Julia, your blog is a diary when I go back to read one year ago. I’d forgotten the time frame of Bill’s second round of chemo. It’s hard to believe the many things that have happened to us in the course of these months. I have found so much hope, strength, and love here. Your writings are so beautiful, my friend! 🙂

    • Sheila, thanks so much! It’s amazing what we forget if we don’t have photos and/or writing to remind us. When I find things I’ve written years ago, I hardly remember any of it. Maybe that’s a good thing, but I want to hold on to the happy memories! I’m so glad you enjoy the blog. It has been wonderful to visit with you here all these months.

  6. And here you are doing that – radiating joy. It is not easy, though. I wonder why we choose to hurt others even when we know it is kind and compassionate words that will soothe both the parties. Is it our attempt to sound smarter and superior? Whatever it be it never succeeds. Found this video interesting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw
    There are many contradictory sayings – when some remind us to speak our feelings out others want us to sugarcoat them. Anyway let us go for the one that spreads no ill feelings!

    • Bindu, thanks for that link. I really enjoyed the video and I thought the cartoon was quite well done. I have had many times when I have experienced what the video describes as “sympathy” vs. what it describes as “empathy” and from my standpoint the latter is definitely much more comforting. I agree with what it said about us often feeling the need to try to say something to make things better, when sometimes we just need someone to understand how badly we are hurting. One night I called my friend Amy with some terrible news and she just started crying on the phone, crying with me over what we were going through, and for some reason that made me feel so comforted. They say “misery loves company” but I don’t think that’s true, I think it’s more like “misery loves understanding.” Yes, the maxims often seem contradictory. I suppose the trick is knowing when to keep silent and when to speak. Thanks again for this comment and for the link to the interesting video!

  7. I enjoyed reading here today and all the messages you’ve shared with visitors and friends. I generally would refrain entirely from offering any advice without being asked. It’s my experience people often just appreciate that you care enough to be present and a good listener. I think it’s a skill that we could practice more, rather than being so intent on being heard.

    I suppose if I felt I had something positive to contribute and was asked, I’d be happy to share a personal experience rather than make suggestions for them. “Well this helped me before” or “I thought about this once” or “I called this group or that person”, that sort of thing. I always find it cringe worthy when someone uses the phrase, “you know what you should do?” I never find that kind of contribution insightful or well thought out.

    • I agree, although I’m the type who has probably said that exact thing far too often – with the best of intentions, but still pretty lame. One thing I’ve learned from hard experience of being on the receiving end of that kind of advice, is what types of responses are helpful and what are usually NOT helpful at all. Even so, I’m sure I still mess up in that way occasionally. I think many of us are programed to “fix” things, and for some reason, we can never see the full complexity of someone else’s situation, nor realize that unsolicited advice is very seldom wanted or useful. Sometimes there is nothing to be done; no easy solutions, and the best we can do is show that we CARE – and as you say, that’s done by being there and just listening.

  8. michael

    ” I think there is a verse about sharing one another’s burdens,” and “weep with those who are weeping.”

    • Yes, that’s in Romans 12, a beautiful chapter that sets the bar quite high in terms of how to show love to others (the verse before the one you cited, which is verse 15, says that we are to bless those who persecute us – a pretty tough attitude to manage). Still, I find it inspiring, something worth aiming for!

  9. michael

    Talking about San Fran, one of the contestants on American Idol K.M. from San Fran says, “There are no haters there.” She has two moms. We lived in Berkeley for two years in the late 70’s.. Quite a culture shock from the Northwest.

    • As a conservative Christian, I found (somewhat to my surprise) that the culture in the Bay area was respectful of our beliefs and values as well. That’s the benefit of tolerance; it goes all along the spectrum. There are a lot of conservative people in California, contrary to popular notions, and I knew many families who home-schooled their children. From what I heard, they generally felt that the California school system was supportive of their efforts, more so than in other places we have lived. Berkeley would be a culture shock compared to almost anyplace, even other places in CA! I found it was a fun place to visit, but I don’t think I could live there – too densely populated and ideologically “out there” for a family like ours. I tend to think of the Northwest as being liberal too, but I guess when one comes from the deep south, almost any place is liberal in comparison.

  10. michael

    I went to seminary there-Pacific School of Religion. I suppose it was good to be exposed to a wide variety of belief systems coming from my more parochial background. I was raised Catholic then became a United Methodist. I recently learned these people are called Metholics. But Berkeley was a little unsettling and much of the time I felt like a fish out of water. As I have grown a little more conservative in my outlook -I can’t imagine being there now. One of my high school friends who was in the Navy and stationed for a time out of San Fran would visit me there. He was an ex seminary student and would go to classes with me. He was also stationed in Hawaii- can’t remember when.

    • Wow, I didn’t realize you had been to seminary. I have not heard the term “Metholics” but it sounds like some sort of addict to me – maybe “Cathodists” would be better although that conjures up images of the inside of an old television. Unsettling is a very good description of Berkeley, (no earthquake puns intended) which is why I would only want to take it in small doses. There’s an atmosphere of almost belligerent insistence on challenging everything. But there are also nice spots there. Did you ever go to Chez Panisse? The main restaurant was too pricey for our tastes but we ate upstairs in the cafe section and enjoyed it. I was disappointed in the public library there, which had a depressing atmosphere, partly because it seemed to double as a homeless shelter.

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