A couple of weeks ago I was on a walk with the kids. A walk that we do most every day and it has become a beautiful part of our new routine. About halfway through our muggy, sunshine morning, I realized my cheeks were hurting from smiling for the past 25 minutes. The entire time we were walking I just had a plastered smile across my face and felt enormously grateful for the beauty of the morning, the extra time I have had with the kids the last few months, and the way we have created new routines that will have lasting memories. I was reminded of the quote by Dutch theologian, Henri Nouwen, that says “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”
Choose joy. Every day. Choose joy in the midst of the uncertainty that this year has brought.
Uncertainty has been a prevalent theme this year. So many losses, grief, and so many unknowns. A theme I know all too well as a mom of a special needs son without a clear diagnosis. I have found that it is in the unknown space that grief and joy abound. Now more than ever I need the reminder that joy comes from the knowledge of Gods love for me, and I lean into the verse found in John 15:11 that says “these things I have spoken to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
Your joy. Made FULL.
We could all use a little dose of the joy Jesus speaks of, the full and abundant joy that is within us.
I personally can’t write about joy without also speaking of grief. To me, they coexist with one another.
We have all felt deep losses and experienced deep layers of grief. You are not alone in that. I know how hard it can be to sit in the unknowns and experience those losses, and how at times it can be easier to push them aside with the busyness of life. But what happens when life isn’t as busy as it once was? What if now you are sitting and wrestling those thoughts, and the waves of grief don’t slow down when you do. It’s there...in that unknown wrestling space of loss, that joy finds you. It’s unexpected at first because like pain or grief, joy surprises you.
It surprises me in the small things, like a flower blooming amongst the weeds. In the way my child runs around the room with a superhero cape. In a bright red leaf, out of place in the midst of summer, floating by on my walk. The fresh scent of honeysuckle and jasmine when I step outside. In a couple glorious hours of alone time with a large cold brew coffee and a good book. In a bright shooting star that crosses my path on a nighttime drive.
In a morning walk with the kids. It is in those moments that I am made wildly aware of how abundant God’s love is for us. I can’t help but smile in those moments, and over time it becomes easier to choose that joy within myself.
So let joy surprise you this week and notice it when it does. You too, may find yourself on a morning walk with cheeks sore from smiling so much. That kind of surprise joy is the very best. The chosen joy. It doesn’t mean that the grief or loss didn’t happen or you have moved past it. It means you can both acknowledge the loss and find joy in it too. The joy that Jesus talks about in John 15:11. Joy within us. Full and abundant joy.