A couple weeks ago, I went to the funeral of a college classmate. Although I had not seen Midge, who died way too young, since graduating 35 years ago, I felt compelled to attend. Not a surprise, there I saw Mary Anne, Midge’s college roommate and lifelong best friend since grade school. My college roommate (Jim) and I had a connection with Midge and Mary Anne, in that we were all from Pittsburgh. We hadn’t known each other prior to college, nor did we see one another between semesters, but we had that common bond that connected us. Interesting how that happens.

Realizing that it’s 35 years ago and my memory isn’t what it used to be, I can’t remember ever seeing Midge separate from Mary Anne. They were inseparable….always together. And always, always SMILING AND LAUGHING. Reflecting on it, I can’t recall ever meeting two more joy filled people during that time in my life. What a great memory.

Fr. Tom, who was the Celebrant for Midge’s Funeral Mass, is Mary Anne’s brother, and as such has known Midge his entire life. During his homily/eulogy, he told stories of her life, always smiling and laughing, always bringing joy to other people. While he also used words like “love” and “courage”, he said his lasting memory of Midge would be “joy”. Independent of circumstance, she apparently never lost that joy during her 20-month battle with cancer.

Over the last 60 days, I lost two other friends who exuded pure joy. They are Fr. Jose Robles-Sanchez and Joy Rapp, two outstanding individuals I knew from our Steubenville Conference Ministry. Again, always smiling and like Midge, always concerned about the other person. Always bringing joy to others.

Being my age or younger, all three died way too young. If we believe what we say we believe (and I do), we know they’re in a much better place. Praise God!!! But what about us? What are we to do? What lessons do we take from losing such wonderful people…so young?

Here’s one of my lessons. We’ve all heard that love is a decision, not a feeling. In unpacking that, I think we can agree it is true. For me, I’d like to make joy a decision, not an emotion. Looking at Midge and Mary Anne, Fr. Jose and Joy as examples, I want to live in a place of joy, independent of substance or circumstance. I want to smile and laugh. I want to bring joy to others.

As evidenced on my website and the things I write about and speak on, I firmly believe that there is a Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment. I also believe that God made each of us uniquely, with special gifts, for a specific purpose. God made you for Greatness!! It’s in using those gifts and pursuing your God given purpose that you can experience joy (along with peace and fulfillment). There’s one more important factor. To experience true joy, again independent of substance or circumstance, you need to know the unconditional love of Jesus Christ (if you want more info on that, please reach out to me). May we all be so blessed!!!

As always, please contact me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com with questions, comments, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Remember…God made you for GREATNESS!!!

Mark Joseph

9