Joy. An emotion that evokes such a wide range of feelings.

Sometimes we are so overwhelmed with happy emotions, we shed tears of joy.

Or, have you ever been in a situation where you are laughing and it isn’t just a short, situational laugh? More of a “belly laugh” – where when you start laughing, you realize that this laughter comes from something that is much deeper than a specific instance? This laughter that you feel deeply within your soul  –  that laughter is an expression of joy.

While the Smiths were on vacation over Christmas break, we rented a house.

Having four adults in even a one-bedroom condo somewhere now feels cramped. Our adult children have no desire to be hanging out in one bedroom with us for a week. (Yes, a true “first world” problem).

The house had an alarm system with two remotes that we were supposed to be able to use to activate OR deactivate the alarm system. But the directions for the alarm were a little unclear. Which presented quite some unique situations that week.

The first night we were there we set the alarm to “AWAY” as we went to dinner.

Upon returning, we pulled into the driveway, opened the car door and immediately the alarm sounded, a nice shrill noise in the quiet beach town. Andrew started frantically working with the alarm remote as Layne unlocked the door and Scott tried to figure out the alarm system on the wall.

(By the way – I recognize my cognitive limitations, so I did not make any effort to help with this situation because I knew I would only make it worse).

A few minutes later the owner called to see if all was well. Ten minutes on the phone and we thought the alarm system was conquered.

Not long after the call with the owner, somehow we set the alarm off again – this time we were inside. We laughed, figuring the owner was rolling his eyes, but ultimately we blew it off, thinking we had discovered the secret to the system.

The second night the exact same thing happened. The only exception was this time Scott called the owner before he called us.

We couldn’t figure out what was wrong. We pressed the supposedly correct button, but before we got to the front door the alarm was ringing once again.

The third night – same thing . . . alarm was going off before we even reached the top of the driveway. Since we recognized a sensor on a column in the driveway, we started trying to disarm the alarm from the car, which we now resolved to parking on the side of the street. No more driveway parking for us because of the insane alarm.

Our fourth night we all stood on the street, looking at the house with our remotes in hand. It was like the scene from Poltergeist where after the traumatic experience the family just stands there staring at the house. I’m sure if any neighbors were watching, they found this to be a bizarre situation. They probably thought we’d never experienced using technology before.

There was much discussion among Scott, Andrew, and Layne as to which button had been pressed to deactivate the thing. We headed up the driveway. Much to our dismay, the alarm started going off. Again.

At this point everyone else was beyond frustrated. But I just started to laugh.

Here were three reasonably intelligent people with two little tiny remotes that could not be figured out. The remotes had three buttons – so surely this could not be this complicated.

As I began to laugh – I could not stop. The look of anger and bewilderment on their faces just made it worse. Then their disgust at my laughter was truly the last thing I needed to begin to laugh uncontrollably.

After a few minutes of the familiar beeping noise, they began to laugh too.

Even though this was before I started reading The Book of Joy, when they began to join with me in laughing, I remember thinking, “THIS is what joy must feel like.”

Joy – not situational . . . but stems from inner love and peace.

The Smith family isn’t perfect.  We are at a stage in life where we are all learning new roles in the family as four adults. So – it isn’t just “easy.”

But – regardless of the ups and downs of our journey – there is an unconditional love there among us. The giving and receiving of that loved caused me to recognize true joy.

Perhaps if we start paying more attention to the moments in our lives that may seem “mundane” or “normal” we will realize that we have joy. Not everything has to be “perfect” to feel that emotion. It is deeper than that. And something that is available to us all.

“Let us be still for a moment. Come, Holy Spirit. Fill the hearts of thy faithful people and kindle in them the fire of thy love. Send forth your spirit and they will be made new and you will renew the face of the earth. Amen.” -Desmond Tutu