Like you, I wonder about that thing called joy. That little word some describe as an acronym- Jesus, Others, Yourself.
I wonder how to find it and how to share it.
I think it’s in the big house, the clean toilet, the fancy car, the stable bank account.
But I know I’ve seen it and it wasn’t in those places.
I saw it in a dry, dusty land where they swept their dirt and lived in metal structures no larger than my storage shed. I saw it when they flipped hot tortillas and served all they had. I saw it when my children made friends with darker skinned babies that spoke a foreign tongue, but laughed and played and understood one another anyway. I saw it when they shared who they were and what they had without any pretense or imagined perfectionism.
Not only have I seen joy, I’ve also felt it be sucked right out of a room. Right out of me, this temple of His. Like a nail piercing the rubber of a worn out and over traveled tire, and that air just spills out. Its left flat and useless.
Sometimes I feel like that tire. Sometimes I feel deflated and undone.* Sometimes I ask myself what is the point and what am I doing? Where am I going and who am I pleasing?
I shared a verse on social media yesterday, and then I received a private message. The version I chose to share was questionable. I knew it, and I shared it. Deliberate. I share lots of things on social media. And some of those things should be left in my own head, as quiet thoughts hidden and safe. But the problem is- sometimes I share them anyway.
And maybe the problem also is I don’t want to hide. I don’t want to play safe.
I want to write in a way that my ugly makes you more beautiful. And by keeping my thoughts veiled, by sharing only what is safe and accepted, I pull on a false beauty- like a stretched out wet suit, keeping all that ugly inside, and protecting myself from whatever you might spill out.
So I take risks. Too many of them, and still not enough. All wrong. But I’m learning. I’m learning what I can share- what I should share. What it is I have to give that might make you a little more brave and a lot more stunning. Because I want to think that when you peek into my messy efforts, you feel a little less alone in yours.
And when that happens, when you’re lying beside me all punctured and deflated, useless and used, I have the opportunity to blow a little bit of life back into your drained self. And what you probably don’t even realize is that you’re doing the same for me.
I think this is Joy.
Seeing one another all burnt up and worn bald. Held together by one tired thread. Recognizing ourselves in each other’s struggles, and coming together as one. Relating. Resonating. Identifying. Connecting. And Restoring.
Stripping that protection off, and jumping headfirst into the unknown. This letting the inside out and the outside in- Somehow joy is found there.
Paul said to fulfill his joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind, esteeming others better than ourselves. So I’m looking to your interests as I examine my own. And it’s a funny thing to find joy here.
To love you the way that Christ has loved me, this is where joy is found.- He loves me before I’ve put on make-up or brushed away the tangled knots. Before I remember Him in prayer or turn the pages of His perfect Word. When I neglect Him for a whole day, or week, or longer. When I yell at my kids and refuse to submit to my husband. When I misunderstand scripture and offer unsound wisdom. When I share a word on social media from the uninspired version. When I quote that author whose doctrine might not always hold true.
Jesus isn’t so quick to label me a heretic. Rather than pierce me so hard I’m deflated useless, He was pierced for me. Rather than accuse and belittle, He hears the allegations and all too true claims against me. Endless. Day after day. Night after night. (Revelation 12:10) He is my defender. He justifies and covers me because that’s what Love does. Love covers sin.
So I’m here with you. I’m making mistakes. I’m receiving criticism while striving to believe the corrections are motivated by love. I’m failing daily and hoping you’ll be gentle about it. And I’m looking at you, asking if you’ll be unbound, take that shield off, and risk being yourself. Risk letting it out and letting us in. That is where our joy becomes full. Full Joy.
*This is where my five minutes stopped, but I’ve had a lot on my mind lately and I hope you don’t mind me letting it loose, and spilling it out onto you.
Although I wrote longer than five minutes, I’ve joined Lisa-Jo and written on this week’s prompt- JOY.