Warning: I’m a wee bit more spiritual with this piece that usual. Whatever your background, I appreciate you taking the time to read this post with an open mind.
Last month on a plane taking me from Texas to Tennessee, I read an article in Marie Claire about actress Shailene Woodley, and at the end of the article she told journalist Gaby Wood:
“I feel very alive right now. More alive than I’ve ever felt.”
And I wonder, what does it mean to feel alive? And how do we feel more alive in some seasons of life than others?
Were we dead before? Or not living fully?
For Shailene, feeling alive came after she took a break from working. Do we feel more alive when we are striving less?
From a Christian perspective, this is my conclusion:
I think it has to do with joy.
When we feel joy.
When we have joy.
When we know joy.
That’s when we feel alive.
For some context, you can read about my take on joy and why I’m so passionate about finding adventure in everyday life here.
Joy, when we let it, can be like a loyal friend that we travel through life with. The friendship isn’t based on circumstances, success or even “having it all together.” Joy, once we learn to value it, will always stick around.
And when we have joy, we come alive. We come alive not because our work, social or spiritual life is flourishing. We come alive because in whatever we do, we have joy.
Having joy looks different for different people, and in different situations. Sometimes it’s simple: you love where you are and who you are, so you are naturally joyful.
Other times it isn’t so easy. You are less than passionate about your current situation, so instead of it coming naturally, you have to find joy. You have to pursue it.
If this is you, I challenge you to do one thing: pursue joy. Choose to find it and keep it.
For a Christian, pursuing joy means pursuing the Lord, the giver of our hope and joy.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
There was a time in my life that happiness wasn’t present. I was lost and didn’t know who I was, but because the Lord was still with me, holding onto me even in my desperation, there was joy.
Happiness is fleeting and dependent on circumstances. Joy is an eternal journey.
Keeping joy, once you’ve found it, is easier than you’d think. It’s like maintaining a relationship with your closest friend: it’s natural and almost second nature. You must simply choose it.
Wherever you are, find joy. You may love your current city, job, friend group and self right now, or you may not. Pursue joy anyway, and you will feel alive.
You will be thankful, passionate and loving with joy by your side.
With joy, you can rest. You can strive less and let go of perfectionism. And I think that’s what Shailene Woodley found. Her spiritual life is different from mine, and I don’t know if she pursued the Lord to find her rest, but it was still rest that made her feel more alive than she’s ever felt.
For Christians, finding rest happens when we let the down our walls, let go of the need to perform and let the Lord love us fully. That’s where true joy lies. That’s where we are completely alive.
Photo credit: Fashion Scans Remastered.