When I think of the word joy, there are several things that usually come to my mind. It’s the type of feeling that comes pouring out of our kids so easily. It’s a brightness that beams out of expectant eyes when they experience something new for the first time, a warm embrace, a reunion, or a good cup of coffee with a friend.
Joy comes from a place of hope.
“Isnt it hard to give joy personal attention? Choosing joy can feel like the most awkward & peace-threatening position to take. That’s because we survived long enough without making joy personal. Joy is an act of faith to offer kindness & compassion to ourselves. We do it for others…will I stop to do it for me.” —Bonnie Gray
This stopped me in my tracks this weekend as I read Bonnie Gray’s story. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend her book.
Could it be true that joy is dangerous? Peace-threatening? A place where disappointment hangs out waiting to pounce?
Joy seems tricky to me. Joy is Dangerous. I like tricky things because while they’re not easy to navigate, they are usually worth the thought and effort that goes into finding it out. Hope, I understand completely, but joy is allusive. It makes us dig.
Having joy doesn’t mean piling a bunch of crap on top of our disappointments and memories. Those exist to serve as a reminder of our wounds. Joy doesn’t mean piling it all on top by pushing through and telling ourselves, it’s gonna be alright. The stuff we we pile on top of lots of our wounds (we call it joy) but really it’s there to serve our most immediate need: protection.
That ‘stuff’ doesn’t heal the wound. It just protects it. Out of sight, out of mind. We tell ourselves we have joy because through nice feelings of encouragement, distractions and hobbies. I’m not trying to be a downer, but you do realize where we’re going right. We’re going down.
What we call joy that we pile on top, those are just bumper stickers plastered on a car. They might cover up chipped paint or a dinged bumper, but the injury is still there. The sticker will protect it from being seen, but underneath the rust will start to eat at the offense.
So then I got to thinking, how do we get joy? I mean, we all want it. We all strive to get it. From what I see and have experienced though is there is a journey to that joy that’s really rough. I’ve had friends and even myself on occasion say “Thanks, but no thanks. Not going on that road. I’m good where I’m at. I’m protected and I’m good with that.”
Joy is like this intangible spirit that heals wounds, but I’ve found in my life, in order to grasp it, you have to at least bring the wounds/memories to it’s doorstep. Sometimes, you don’t want to enter the house, because you already know what’s behind door number one, door number 10, door number 100.
As I continued reading Bonnie’s story, her insight to what choosing joy meant left me with shovel in hand, ready to dig into places that I’m sure have yet to be uncovered.
We all have these places.
No matter if it’s a good or gloomy season, there’s ‘the stuff.’ The stuff. The stuff we press down.
So I was thinking about Jesus and how he works with things. It’s not always how I’d do it, frankly the Lord and I have had many a discussion about this specifically. However, the outcome, is always better than what I could have imagined.
No, I’m not trying to pile the crap on and say it all feels nice.
In the moments of digging out that well, that’s been clogged full of protective orders we have for our hurts and experiences, I’ve realized how laborious choosing joy is. It’s time consuming. It’s dirty. Digging for joy is down right exhausting!
When we dig, lots of things we’ve buried get to come back to the surface. I say “get” because it feels like half the time it’s bubbling quicker than I’d like and yet inside of me, it feels like I’m being dragged along with it. So there is the immediacy to the emotional pull of the stuff and then a begrudging spirit that would like to keep it tucked down.
If you’re digging for joy, makes sure you have a team of people supporting you in your efforts because you’re gonna need confidants and comrades. Constituents and cheerleaders.
I’ve confirmed it in my life: This is why Joy is dangerous.
Digging for joy is dangerous because it brings me to a place where I become visible again. It’s a place to revisit the things that have wounded us but this time, take Jesus with us. I don’t know whether you know Jesus, like him, think he’s a bunch of bunk, but for me, bringing all that stuff back up, I have to call in back up. So maybe it’s not Jesus for you, but call on someone to walk it with ya!
Anyone out there feel like me in this situation? I’ve had too many times in my life where the wound is experienced, it’s pushed back down because you need to protect yourself and then something triggers that same feeling and you either choose to bring it up and out or shove it deeper down.
Man, breaking through is a tough road, but because I’m consciously not traveling alone, I’ve assembled the team, I’ve got my backup called in, I’m not alone in the wounding experience. I’m met with grace and joy instead of disappointment and hurt.
It’s easy to look at my life and choose joy for someone else. It’s easier to go out of your way to stop along side of the road to help someone else as their cluttered joy starts to bubble to the surface.
The question begs for an answer and it’s something I’ll be chewing on this week: Will I choose to stop for me? Will you choose to stop for you?
It probably won’t even feel right half the time, but that’s because it’s organic and it’s probably a path we’ve not yet taken. But it’s worth the dig. It’s worth the fight. Because at the end of that rocky path is the tricky joy we all strive after. It’s ours to be claimed.