Wednesday, March 9, 2016

revisiting joy

Even after nine years of parenting--seemingly a lifetime for me though truly only a drop in the bucket-- it still amazes me how quickly children can go from one extreme emotion to another.  Seconds after belly laughing over a funny moment, wailing can commence over any number of things from falling and tripping over the air that always seems to get in the way to not being able to eat the entire whatever that was pillaged from the snack basket ten minutes before dinner. 
Taking the time, physical energy, and mental stamina to adventure out to the zoo or park can quickly go from fun-filled day to annoying parenting moment as tears are shed and grumpy voices raised because you have to leave, or because of the one animal they just remembered they didn't get to see, or because tiredness set in as soon as they were buckled and now "sangry" attitudes are fully operational.  
Frequent reminders are given to be thankful for what you have and what you get to do, instead of focusing on what you do not have or think you are missing out on. Fixating on these self proclaimed lacks in your life results in spending more time than necessary dealing with the anger that comes from wanting instead of the joy that comes from simple thankfulness.
Of course, I've been walking on this earth for 34 years and change and my emotional highs and lows are definitely of the same roller coaster status so that when I parent out loud I find that I need to include myself in the reprimand.  When my own skills of discontent and comparison are quite adept, molding the hearts of the boys who call me mama is a difficult task due to the label of hypocrite I seem to be wearing. 
My mind this week has been centering around that single word, Joy.  As if on a giant ferris wheel of emotion, I come back to it time and time again, hearing the same need from friends, and pouring over reminders written in the past and verses that were searched out to act as a jump starter for the heart when things are foggy and focus is skewed. 
When glancing back I remember that the need to re-search 'usually comes along side times where I'm (1) exhausted, (2) have a lot of things on my plate/in my brain and get overwhelmed, (3) haven't been able to spend time with friends who encourage me, or (4) let the lives of others make me feel discontent with my own life.'  Knowing your triggers, what sets off the sins, idols, or difficult memories that effect your spiritual, emotional or even physical aspects of your life is a task worth delving into.  Writing them down once found is crucial as well, as it saves times and sanity when in the moment you're not sure why you seem to have lost it again.

Lighthearted, happy, and positive were traits I would have boasted about in the past, but life happens and experiences change you, and even if for the better, residue of another sort can stick along as well.  Naivety leaves and many times is replaced with negatives such as shock, doubt, and insecurity before the Spirit reminds of the Joy to overcome them all.

Between venturing into fostering to adopt and just barely cracking open the door to this dark and sad world hundreds of thousands of children in the US face, hearing about loved ones losing their short battle with cancer, and the shock that friends are suffering through after a life was taken by its own hand, it can seem as if seeking joyfulness in the midst is a selfish motive.  But Joy is not the "absence of suffering, it's the presence of God" ~Elisabeth Elliot

In my notebook full of the most favorite of the favorite quotes I wrote these words shared by Ellie Holcomb, "For every look at yourself take ten looks at Jesus."  Her purpose for this phrase was different than mine but the root of the need is the same.  Look at Jesus.  For every time you feel discontent, for every time you fail to live up to your expectations, for every time you glance at your neighbor and allow them to give you identity.  For every time you give into the negatives in the world around you, look at Jesus and then look again and again.  Look at him in whom "all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Col 1:19)"

There are 5 verses, 12 short sentences, making up the 100th Psalm that have never failed to put a smile upon my face, even in the darkest of circumstances.  In this Psalm of joyful noise, gladness, singing, praise and thanksgiving a simple truth strikes me.  If God tells us to praise it means we have things to sing praise about.  He wants my joy because he has done joyful things. 

With this the waterfall of memories begins to flood out the not so wonderful ones that try to take root.

So on this turn of the wheel, instead of the downtrodden glum of searching for the assumed lost treasure of joy, there has been an encouragement--permission you could say--to grab more and more and when I get to the point where I feel greedy for taking too much, more is exactly what I am told to get because "in his presence there is FULLNESS of joy (Ps. 16:11)"

Pray for me, Ill be praying for you.

*This weekly outpouring that is becoming a habitual part of my life, is somewhat selfish.  It is my outlet, my processing center, a way to see and feel how God is currently working in my life.  "If I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write about it" says Madeline L'engle and right she is in regard to my own thought ability.  Thank you for sharing this time with me.

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