Okay, loved that song as a child. But you know what? It's more than just a children's song.
I've noticed this over the years working with preschoolers. It doesn't matter what I'm singing... they don't even have to know the words... but the second Miss Erin starts going crazy, singing some song, they're mine. Singing gets them to that "happy place" where they just might actually pay attention to me as I try as much as possible to keep 15-20 preschooler's attention for a story. So back to the song...
It's not about a happy "place"... how I feel based on the externals. Call me a crazy former English Major, but I believe there's a semantic distinction between "happiness" and "joy"... well, at least I make the distinction for myself. Happiness is situational, depends on those externals, while joy is deeper. For me, true joy is from Christ. C.S. Lewis wrote about the difference in Surprised by Joy. So I know that while the crazy world around me might threaten my happiness, it cannot take my joy, because this world and its craziness is temporary, but my God is eternal. I know not everyone might believe it, but that's what I know to be true.
What does that mean in "real life"? It means that situations in my life can be difficult, and things may not be running smoothly... even chaotically at times, but that I can still have joy. This week, work was not easy. Nothing with my patrons. Kids can make me smile any day! I know I'm blessed to get to work with them. There were some other things going on. But despite that I still know that God has given me this job. There are so many reasons that I know this is where God has placed me, this is what He's wired me to do (at least for now), and I am thankful for it. I've been told by numerous people that I'm lucky, and I don't take it for granted. Not everyone even likes their job, let alone loves it. (Hey, you have to considering what librarians get paid!) And the rest of my life outside of work is at times, smooth, at other times... not so smooth... but as long as I keep my focus on the right place... on God... I have my joy. It's a fight some days when I lose that focus, but as another verse in the song says, He also gives me peace that passes understanding. It's all past understanding sometimes! But I'm no less thankful :)