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Five Minute Fridays #JOY

Five Minute Fridays


Three letters that sometimes seem as elusive as finding the beginning or end of the "O" tucked in the middle.
Joy is supposed to transcend circumstances.  It's something we chant to ourselves, remind ourselves, dangle in front of ourselves trying to convince ourselves it is within our grasp if we just look up, look on the bright side, or look away.
Sometimes joy is as natural to wear as our favorite shirt.  Life is beautiful and we know it.  We are so aware of it.  In this moment joy slides over us effortlessly.  And sometimes even here we could wear it we just fail to do so, distracted.  Missing it.
And yet many times joy is a fight.  It's hard. Circumstances leave us upturned on our heads, out of sorts, and anything but beautiful.
The right combination to access joy seems hard.  Like a souls' Rubik's cube.  We seem to be able to rotate some pieces into place, but the winning combination just doesn't seem to be tangible.  We can't click it just so.
We are supposed to be joyful in all things because we have Jesus.  But why does knowing that sometimes seem to do little but help dull the pain?
And sometimes we confuse ourselves thinking we must rejoice over a wrong and somehow make it a right.  Deny ourselves the right to hurt.
In part Joy is a mystery.
I think she some times hides behind the corner of pain.  She's there and we know it.  She is within our reach somehow if we keep going.  We see her light play softly and when we turn the corner she greets us.  Finally.
It is easy to find joy in the grand feelings and occasions of life, it is a bit harder to focus eyes and hearts on the joy of the here and now every day life (this all blurs by unnoticed most of the time), but it is very difficult to find joy despite pain.
And yet it's the motivation of Jesus as He endures the Cross.

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 We are supposed to count as joy, pure joy the trials we face...ultimately because they have the ability according to James to make us complete, lacking nothing.  Even the ugly, the hard, the dark, the thing that smells of death has the ability to birth joy.  

Sometimes I see the after effects of this truth.  I've felt it before, I've watched it in the lives of others, I've witnessed the paradox...
And sometimes I'm still floundering hoping to align my vision right so I can see the joy set before me if I choose to say, "Yes" to the thing I don't want to in the now....Because sometimes joy is a fight to find, to see, to recognize.  
When I think of hard joy, of joy as a lifestyle I remember those words my mom etched into my mind long ago.  After coming home from a psychiatric hospital as a twenty eight year old mother to two toddlers, my mom heard these two words whispered into her heart.  "Offer Joy".  I remember the way she said it was as if God personally told her this one day as she was trying to figure out how to make it through the day with a mind that darted everywhere.  A mind still fragile.  Still healing, still trying to find its way.  A mind who had felt the fissure of being broken and all the sorrow that goes with that.  
It came to her to write down the joy she found in the quiet and loud moments of her life as a young mother.  I remember running my hands over the red leather journal.  After she told me the story of the two word phrase Offer Joy, I had quietly thought of the young woman I knew as my mom trying to fix her gaze on joy and trying to right her world.  How some days she made it through in clusters of minutes.  One day at a time.  With the hunt for joy as hand grips out of the darkness.  Flipping through the pages I found notes jotted down about my sister and I, my dad, nature, Psalms, beauty she found in her quiet life.  It was her pathway through the darkness.  The way to keep walking through the dark, until she turned the corner into Joy.


  1. It's hard to be transparent and to share deep thoughts and stories. I appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable, to reflect on the irony of JOY and hopefully OFFER JOY uniquely by allowing others to see rays of sun through their overwhelming circumstances

  2. This is beautiful, Somer. I wrote about the same verse--also in the context of a family member experiencing a mental health crisis. I love how the Bible speaks to us in our hours or ephochs of need.


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