Where are your moments of joy? I used to love to plan holidays, gatherings, events and projects. I would work like a dog to accomplish a final outcome. I believed my joy lay hidden in the culmination of perfectly planned projects. Hummmm, funny thing is, nothing was ever perfect enough. There was always a series of small flaws in the execution of an event or project that would hold my attention. I would watch the people enjoying my toil and try to absorb their joy. There were years of this sort of toil coupled with a stark emptiness.
I thought joy was in a compliment on my children’s behavior in public. Or perhaps how my garden grew. I was always trying to earn my joy in a hundred different ways. So elusive to me, I resigned myself to the understanding that joy was for other people…just not me. I had a fantastic job in NYC, I made plenty of money. It did not earn me any joy. I could catch a glimpse of this feeling in moments passing. The smell of my baby’s hair, a smile in a tender moment with a friend, and even a fragment of a memory could trigger a hint of what I was after.
Peace I understood. Contentment I have had. Never joy. So, what of it?
I have always been goal oriented. It is how I survived so many years of hardship. Hard work will get you plenty of places. But, in no way does meeting a goal create joy. I’m usually exhausted, worn emotionally, and in need of comfort after extremely strenuous goals have been met. It saps the possibility of joy right out of the picture.
Then, I learned a lesson from above. John John made life stop in its tracks. I HAD to stop to watch, pray, and care for him. It happened somewhere during that time that I think I experienced joy. When I was standing next to his bed a few days after brain surgery, he smiled at me and whispered “I love you mommy”. I think in that moment, 32 years of joy burst right out of my heart. I sobbed and felt a tidal wave wash over my whole being….I had stood there for two days not knowing if he would wake up with brain damage so severe he wouldn’t be able to speak again. He said my name and the first words out of his mouth were a reminder to me of his love.
I still cry when my children tell me they love me. I feel joy. It is only because I have slowed down enough to allow joy to penetrate my heart. I had no idea that for 32 years it had passed me by 100 times a day. I was so busy trying to recreate my version of what joy must be, because I didn’t understand it. It is not a special gift given to others, but something you can experience when you lay your plan down and stop trying so hard. By the grace of God, I understand my mistakes. I find joy in silly things all day. To me, it is like finding jewels amongst the dirt on the trail of life.