By Bob S


For years I considered the Big Book statement: “Happy, joyous and free” as a bit redundant, for after all, are not happiness and joy the same? (p. 133) However, years later I found that HAPPINESS and JOY are two completely two different things:

HAPPINESS is a human experience. It disappears when we are sad or depressed. But JOY is a God experience that may take place even when we are sad or depressed.

I have experienced said unexplained joy while feeling deeply depressed in a tent while camping in Sult Ste. Marie, Canada. I had recently been separated from my ex-wife and was feeling enormous depression. We camped in that same tent in the Grand Canyon during our honeymoon previously. In the middle of the night, I became unexplainably full of energy, and everything seemed to wax extremely vivid and bright. I was full of Joy. This lasted throughout the night.

I believe Bill Wilson was experiencing great Joy—not ordinary happiness—after he went through his vital spiritual experience on page 14 of the Big Book: Doctor Silkworth told him: “Something has happened to you I don’t understand. But you had better hang on to Anything is better than the way you were.” I believe Bill’s resultant Joy prompted him to immediately go out and start helping alcoholics. So, I believe God’s Joy can be ongoing!

Then there is Fitz Mayo who had such an ongoing vital spiritual experience that: “He couldn’t drink even if he would.” (P. 57, Big Book) There must have been great Joy in that!

Again, Ebby Thacher (Bill’s sponsor), who was not a spiritual person prayed to God: “as never before” and was stuck sober for two years and seven months. Again, great Joy must have been present. (EBBY The Man Who Sponsored Bill W., by Mel B. p. 58) Ebby died in 1966, two years sober.

I believe the blessing of spiritual Joy will come to me when God decides to send it—I cannot just wish for it. However, I believe my chances are all for the better if I try to maintain a fit spiritual condition by living the Twelve Steps.


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