So, I've started journaling again. I say again because I have this habit of starting a journal and writing religiously in it for 2-ish weeks. Then, I miss a day. Then, I miss another. Then, the whole journal thing gets forgotten for months on end. Until I remember, oh hey! I have a journal! Aaaand, the cycle continues. For this round of writing, I've taken to relying on journal prompts as a way to break out of the "today I ate eggs for breakfast, went to work, the kids said something funny" daily monologue routine that I tend to fall into. It's been questions such as " what do I need more of in my life?" and "how do I feel at the moment?" And most of those have been easy to answer. "More Bible reading and quality time with the family!" "I feel accomplished for writing in this journal! Go me!"
And then I got to "When did I experience JOY this week?" And I started skipping days, and procrastinating, and 'forgetting' to answer that question. Because JOY hasn't been on my mind lately. Things like mortgage payments and insurance and work stress and is my kid ever going to eat anything other than peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches have all been at the forefront of my mind. And yet, the joy has been there too, which I realized when I finally decided to sit down and write out what was actually going on:
"There have been a few times I've experienced joy this week, but they have all seemed to be prefaced by conviction and repentance beforehand. Mentally recommitting my marriage to God is one instance, because it showed me that I wasn't investing myself as I should. It meant dealing with the stress, anger, resentment, exhaustion, selfishness, and neediness that I have allowed to taint my vision of my marriage and my home. I forgot that the goal of marriage wasn't an easier life, but a practice in being made more Christ-like. And not the peaceful, gentle, "let the little children come to me" Christ, but the ugly, exhausting, self-sacrificing practice of giving your best to people who may not ever acknowledge the gifts you're giving. It's so much easier to think, "if I give enough of myself, everyone at home will be happy, and my efforts will have made me happier as a result. If I give enough of myself, I will end up getting what I want out of all this."
But if the end goal of sacrifice is personal happiness or fulfillment, it isn't actually sacrificial giving.
Joy is found as my heart and mind are (sometimes forcefully) transformed into the heart and mind of Christ.
But JOY? Joy is not the same as happiness. Joy is thanking God after laughing with your husband after reconnecting with him, as you've let go of months of unspoken resentment. Joy is hearing songs reminding you of God's overwhelming and relentless love, in spite of your best efforts to remind him you don't deserve to receive it. Joy is a "come to Jesus moment" as you sit in tears at your kitchen table and realize that God is answering a current prayer, not with an answer that is easy but one that is RIGHT. Joy is found as my heart and mind are (sometimes forcefully) transformed into the heart and mind of Christ.
Grace Holt is a thirty-something full-time mommy of three, who happens to have a love for fashion and uses any excuse to wear something shiny. She is loved by an amazing God and an amazing man, and blogs about faith and fashion over at livingwithaholts.blogspot.com.