The day they met her, was a day joy returned to their hearts.
It was a day where worry and fear left. Unsuredness and tension were relieved. It was a day when they learned that true joy can fill a place of heartache.
The joy they felt couldn’t be hidden behind a straight face or even a half smile.
True joy, joy from Christ… It exudes beyond our control.
It cannot be hidden. It outshines anything of self with the glory of God.
The joy in Christ outshines us, outlives us, overcomes us.
You may ask how I can speak of joy amidst a time of such sorrow. I ask myself the same thing sometimes. I don’t always feel joyful, some days I don’t even want anything to do with joy.
But then, I saw their smiles. I saw their laughter, I saw their hearts become free from the entanglement of grief… And fly free.
I realized how wonderful true joy could feel, if I can truly find it. I realized the power a photograph, of someone in that moment of joy, has. I realized that despite my previous thoughts about happily staying in this muck of sorrow and grief… that I actually do want to find joy again. Someday, I want to live as free as they did in those moments. I want to fly.
I saw more than happiness or smiles pasted on for a camera. I saw the joy of Christ filling their hearts so much that it literally overflowed into their faces, into their giggles, into their laughter and smiles. I saw joy that didn’t care if it was photographed or not. It wasn’t for show. I saw joy that let them fly. Joy that let them fly to new heights and in places they hadn’t been to in ages.
I saw what that moment of untainted joy brought into our home and into our family in the next week- Hope. Renewed strength. Christlike attitudes. Freedom.
I saw hope in eyes that had looked at me strained with pain and uncertainty for months. I saw excitement over good that came from seemingly bad. I saw an attitude of grace in them. I saw growth. I saw things I didn’t even know I needed to see.
And it grew me. It grew me in places I didn’t want to grow. It forced me to try to see the good when all I wanted to see was the bad. It excited me to see them come out of this on the other side.
Their joy exuded beyond them… And into me.
It inspired me to try. To try to seek that joy they had. It encourages me to see the changes in them from only a few moments of joy.
It reminded me to keep pressing on, to keep fighting, to keep hoping, to keep on keeping on… Because joy still lives.
It is not something I always remember to seek- especially in this period of my life. But it is something I must intentionally try to strive for in the moments I’m able to.
Joy gives life purpose. Joy gives me purpose.
God tells me to be joyful in everything. Even this. Even losing someone I loved so incredibly much. Even through all these struggles- marriage, family, finances, friends, anniversaries … The list goes on.
How? It doesn’t seem possible.
How can I ‘always be joyful’?
“Never stop praying”
It is in and through Jesus that we will find that joy. The joy even in the hardest of hard. The joy we don’t really know if want to find. Yet, know we need to find.
In my experience, joy in struggles or grief doesn’t look like a smile. It doesn’t look like laughter. It looks more like endurance. It looks more like intention. It looks more like hope. It rarely has a smile attached but has a fire beneath it pushing us to keep going.
Joy comes when we pray and ask for it… And sometimes it comes when I don’t even know I’m asking for it. It comes when I need it. Sometimes it comes out of unexplainable drive to accomplish something. Sometimes it comes in a moment of watching it explode out of their little faces.
Joy lives on. Despite it all… joy still exists.
And so must I, because someday… I want to fly; I want to fly high.