A Catholic reads the Bible, week 44: Finding joy in the Gospel

Jesus's invocation of joy had a special meaning for Laura Bernardini, she writes.

This is Week 44 of a yearlong series: A Catholic Reads the Bible. Read Week 1, Week 2 and Week 3. Laura Bernardini is director of coverage in CNN's Washington Bureau. The views expressed in this column belong to Bernardini.

(CNN)A few years ago, I was going through a pretty rough time at work. I was stress-eating candy bars like they were kernels of popcorn. I wasn't sleeping. I was just constantly worried that I would miss a story or not be prepared for the day ahead.

Laura Bernardini
My friend Kim suggested that I read a book, "One Word That Will Change Your Life" by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton and Jimmy Page. It is all about changing your life. The book walks you through creating a mantra out of one word that helps you focus for the year ahead.
    I read the book in a few short hours. I started thinking that my word would be "hope" because I needed something to hold onto -- and what's better to latch onto than hope?
    But I later realized that the word I really needed was joy. I already had hope -- hope my circumstances would change. I needed to find the joy in life and work again. If I wasn't appreciating the little things and working on change, there was no way I could see my many blessings.
    Joy became my word, and it has been so since January of 2014.
    During the Rio Olympics, I saw a picture of Kerri Walsh Jennings celebrating her team's beach volleyball victory over Italy to advance to the quarterfinals. There, written on her hand, was my favorite word, "Joy."
    And then, timed perfectly (as has happened before in this year or so of reading the Bible), "joy" jumped off the page in the Book of John.
    In Chapter 15, Jesus talks about the joy that can be found in faith from keeping a very important commandment. He says, "I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:11-12).
    In my opinion, Jesus' one commandment is way better than the original 10.
    Everyone knows the second part of that statement about loving one another, but the fact that Jesus invoked joy had a special meaning for me. It made me think: My year of focusing on my joy now feels much more complete.
    Just like Jesus notes that joy is the prelude to loving one another, finding joy was the prelude to this project. Maybe that's why my faith has deepened so much during my reading of the Bible, even through the valleys of dry texts.
    A final note: I sleep well these days and don't eat candy bars. Life, especially with this project, has been really great.