Cyndi and I married in our mid-twenties. We’d met at the church we’d been attending for several years. A couple years later, Darren was born. What a moment of joy that was! I’d heard people speak of a love that hits you with the birth of a child. Now I felt it, a love so strong I instantly knew, I would die for that child if necessary.
Love as the Foundation to Joy
We came home from the hospital and I’d just stare at him in wonderment. So beautiful. So vulnerable. So precious. He didn’t have to do anything for my love. Just looking at him in my arms was incredible. I remember thoroughly enjoying each stage of Darren’s growth. As an infant he first rolled over at my in-laws. Then there was the trip to the mountains when he was four, and we could actually climb the rocks together. So many memories through the past 17 years.
Dr Jim Wilder in The Life Model, “In a child’s first years, the desire to experience joy in loving relationships is the most powerful force in life. Some neurologists now say that the basic human need is to be the ‘sparkle in someone’s eye.’ When you catch a glimpse of a child’s face as he runs toward an awaiting parent with arms outstretched in unrestrained joy, you can witness firsthand that incredible power that comes from ‘being the sparkle in someone’s eye.’ ”
When mom and dad express this basic love, it produces joy–joy at being alive, joy at being valued just for who you are. This is God’s plan, that we feel the love that says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Joy is to be our default emotion. When troubles come, we should have the capacity to return to joy.
This prepares us to naturally connect with our heavenly Father, who loves us passionately even though He knows everything about us, and to connect again and again to His heart as we face life’s challenges.
“Having enough joy strength is fundamental to a person’s well being. We now know that a joy center exists in the right orbital prefrontal cortex of the brain. It has executive control over the entire emotional system. When the joy center has been sufficiently developed, it regulates emotions, pain control, and immunity centers; it guides us to act like ourselves; it releases neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin; and it is the only part of the brain that overrides the main drive centers – food and sexual impulses, terror and rage.”
God rejoices over you with joy and singing because He is so thrilled to be your Father! You truly are the apple of His eye. You are fearfully and wonderfully made! (Zep.3:17; Deut. 32:10; Ps. 139:14)
Friesen, James G., E. James Wilder, Anne M. Bierling, Rick Koepeke, and Maribeth Poole. Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You. Pasadena: Shepherd’s House, 2004.