We have a friend who’s a self-proclaimed “hug dealer.”
She has a hug for anyone who wants one, and even some that don’t! She proudly wears a t-shirt with this title written in large letters across the front. If you were to ever receive a hug from her, we’re convinced that, like us, you’d want more.
These hugs are legit! But there’s more to her hugs than meets the eye. She practically oozes JOY! So when our friend hugs you, it’s like you’ve been given a direct deposit of an intangible treasure.
Do you know someone like this too?! If so, consider yourself BLESSED because they are as rare as leprechauns!
It’s like they were born smiling. Hugs are a language to them. You can see the sparkle in their eyes and hear something special in the tone of their voice. They linger to talk to strangers, looking for opportunities to share some of their hope and encouragement. They’re always quick to speak a kind word or pick-me-up compliment. And if you’re their friend, you know they’ll douse you with some of their joy every time you see them. They just can’t help it!
To be perfectly honest, we love our friend… but she took some getting used to. You see, neither of us are naturally quick with expressions of joy. Or hugs.
We’re get-er-done women. Our dominant disposition is being driven, task oriented, goal achieving women. Ask any driven person if they have time for joy and they’ll probably ask you who “she” is as they check their schedule for an available appointment time in their calendar to meet.
When you’re wired to get things done, it’s easy to associate joy with a fleeting sensory experience like the downhill rush on a roller coaster. You know it when you complete a project or start a new one. Joy is part of the driven experience, but it’s primarily a transitional emotion. It signals the end of something well done or the anticipation of something new on the horizon.
We lived like this until we met the woman we now deem our *official* hug dealer.
For years, we’d been under the misconception that joy was a fleeting and fickle emotion connected to good outcomes, forward movement, accomplishments, and checking off milestones in our life. We loved it. Joy was great while it lasted. But it was always short lived.
When you define joy as a feeling, you can’t help but find yourself in a place where joy comes through performance or persistance. If you do something good, you get a rush of joy. If you mess things up or experience a loss, joy is nowhere to be found. Joy is contingent, and often contingent on you.
But this is not the way God characterizes joy. God doesn’t define joy as a feeling or emotion. In His design, joy is a fruit—a fruit of the Spirit.
In Galatians 5:22 (ESV), Paul says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…” Though it’s compared to a natural phenomena, joy is anything but natural. It’s a supernatural “fruit” that comes from your relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. And just like fruit on a fruit tree, joy is supposed to hang from your life in ways that other people can easily see and experience.
This is exactly what happened when we met our hug dealer. We could see something was different about her. She had something we didn’t, and it was irritating! We were studying God’s Word, leading small groups, serving and doing all we knew to represent Him well in our everyday life… but we didn’t have what she had.
We found ourselves asking: how can any one person be this full of life and laughter all the time?!
As we were given hug after hug and invited into one joyful conversation after another, something started to change in us. We laughed more. Hugged more. Celebrated more. And started to notice evidence of joy in our own lives in little ways nearly every day.
Joy is a fruit our friend cultivates really well. Through her life, we learned that it’s also a fruit each of us can cultivate well too. Here are three ways you can begin to live a life overflowing with this fruit of the Spirit.
Our lives have been radically changed by joy. God used our hug dealer to plant seeds of joy in our hearts. She pointed us to this life-giving gift in her actions and her words. The joy in her life made us crave it for our own.
Today, we have more joy than ever before! We’ve gone from tasting the joy in our friend’s life to cultivating it in our own. The journey hasn’t been a cake walk. It often feels more like Psalm 30:5b (ESV), which says, weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Still, we continue to cultivate this fruit. And while we aren’t officially hug dealers, we are learning to be more joy-full, every day.
As you spring into a new season, cultivate joy. Let this fruit of the Spirit grow in you to the point where it rubs off on others. Who knows, you might become a hug dealer too!
Catch our hugs—