Of course there was an award. The best costume of the day would win a $25.00 gift certificate.
I dress up for fun. I find the entire process enjoyable; conception to culmination, there is delight in being in-character. I'm satisfied to push a little on my personal envelope, even as I step out a little beyond my box. I know the outfit rocks. The customers love it as well. Some say they need the laugh, others just stop in their tracks.
I was delighting in the experience, finding joy in the process, until somebody said to me, "You will probably get the award." Suddenly, my focus changed to the award. For some brief moments, it became about getting the prize. When that happened, I felt joy leave, and a heaviness ensue. Now it was all about the competition and the prize. Furthermore, now it was up to others to vote me "Best Costume." The end result of the process wasn't up to me.
This end of joy can come to us just as quickly in the midst of everyday living. One moment we are finding joy in the presence of God, in the fellowship of friends, laughter, wind and Sun. Moments later, perhaps unawares, our focus changes direction, and joy is lost.
I need a new job, that shiny car, the new girls' attention, the 47-inch screen television. These become the goal. My joy is now up to somebody else, and a positive end means getting that goal met.
Joy is found in those things I can change. Joy is found in the process. Joy is found in the present. Joy is satisfied in the future. Ultimately, joy is its own reward.
"...Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."