Honestly – What makes you happy?

When we are looking for joy what are we talking about? That is the question Lewis addresses as he details the events of his early life in Surprised By Joy. Much of chapter 11 is spent talking about joy substitutes that are not the real thing. The two things he mentions are erotic love and magic.

Though our world desperately wants to think otherwise, erotic love is obvious enough to deliver joy. Our world is full of those who try to equate erotic love with joy, but they are not the same thing. The great elephant in the room of modern culture is that sex will not bring us joy. It seems that even churches have forgotten this as they have exalted messages of sexual satisfaction as an answer to life and relationships.  

What Lewis calls “magic” also fails to bring joy. Magic is “this ravenous desire to break the bounds, to tear the curtain, to be in the secret.” This is the superman who does not have to live by the normal bounds of society because they live above it. It is power in its rawest form. Being in control and free from all constraints is not the answer either.

I think it is vital to understand what Joy is not. It is important to know what will not bring Joy. We are so apt to deceive ourselves with things we think will Joy. Far too often, we are blind to the reality that there is no Joy in the many things we think will bring Joy. We refuse to recognize that, by and large, we are terrible predictors of the things that will bring Joy.

After all, how many times have you been disappointed over something you thought would bring you happiness but didn’t deliver? And how many times have you been surprised by what did make you happy?

Until we get honest with ourselves about Joy, we will never find it.


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