Do not look for rest in any pleasure, because you were not created for pleasure: you were created for Joy. And if you do not know the difference between pleasure and joy you have not yet begun to live. ~ Thomas Merton
Pleasure, however grand, isn’t sustainable. It wasn’t meant to be. If it were, we wouldn’t experience it because there would be no ordinary and no pain to give it definition. Yet, there’s a persistent temptation to measure ourselves or to measure the quality and value of our lives by our varying degrees of pain and pleasure.
Just as everyday life can seem mundane after experiences of pleasure, it comes as a sweet relief after periods of pain. Pain always seeks a remedy and when I experience it, I’m momentarily grateful for the ordinary.
On the rare occasion that I have a terrible sore throat, or a bout with the flu or a period of heartbreak, I long for the regular. But once my throat or my stomach or my heart are back in place, it’s the regular that seems to be in need of a remedy. That’s the pull of pleasure. But pleasure wasn’t meant to be a full course, only a taste.
Joy is something altogether different. Joy comes in and remakes me. Joy is my traveling companion through both pain and pleasure. Joy sustains.
I’m learning to see pain as God’s megaphone (C.S. Lewis); pleasure as God’s gift; and Joy as God’s grace!