This year I started something new with my 8th grade students. After experiencing some pain in my life and hearing about the tragic deaths of three teens who were so desperate they took their own lives, I knew I had to do something to help my kids. You see, I had learned a valuable life lesson as I dealt with my own inner pain, and I knew that what I had learned could be useful to these kids as well. I had to share my story so that they could learn what I had learned; joy can be found anywhere if we only look for it. Hence the birth of the JOY Project.
It is easy to get so caught up in our emotions that we fail to see the good things that surround us. When disappointment, trials, or pain comes our way, we tend to focus on the cause of it even though the answer for surviving and moving on is right before our very eyes. We get so soaked in our misery that it becomes a part of us. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Is it possible that we become so comfortable in our misery that we don't want to see a way around it? Unfortunately, yes. But the solution is simple. Look up! Look around! Find joy in the little things. When we begin to focus on the things in life that bring us joy or those things for which we are grateful, we will find that our emotions and attitudes are uplifted. Finding joy in the midst of a storm is entirely possible. We just have to look for it.
My 8th graders are now in their third week of the JOY Project, and I must say I am truly impressed with the job they are doing with it. The websites they have created are amazing! Each student has made his/her website truly unique. It is an absolute joy reading through the items they have included in their projects, and I find myself overflowing with joy as I read them. God has gifted me with some pretty amazing students and they are blessing me through their journeys to joy.
I may never know if the JOY Project makes a difference in the lives of my students. I may never know whether or not they learned the same lesson that I did. All I can do is hope and pray that the project wasn't all in vain. They may not need the lessons from this project in their lives right now, but somewhere down the line, when trials come their way, I hope they'll look up and remember to seek joy throughout the storm.
Finding joy when it seems there is no joy is entirely possible. I know. I lived through it. Maybe my students will find it possible as well.