Monday, December 14, 2009

Brought to You by the Letter J


If I have learned one thing in this life, it is that God will not tie my shoes without me. - Doug Boyd

When you all suggested Joy for today’s [J] topic, this quote immediately came to mind. I know, there’s no mention of “joy” in it… but there is a message about how to go about achieving joy.

I’ve obviously written about joy before. I’ve defined it for myself and written at length about the fact that I consciously choose joy rather than waiting for it to find me. But just like joy has to be chosen, I also have to put some work into it before the choice is available. Hence, the quote. God gives us the tools, the opportunities, the situations… but it’s up to US to do something with what He provides. He’s willing to stoop over and guide our hands, but we have to be willing to put in the effort to tie our own shoes.

Sometimes we get lucky and joy just knocks us upside the head. We can call those moments “slipper joy” since we just slide right into them and there is no tying required. It’s cozy and comforting and we sometimes take for granted that it will always be available and waiting for us at the end of a hard day. But more often than not, joy is hidden in the cracks, in the unforeseen places God builds into our hardest times.

The example that comes to mind for me has everything to do with my physical situation this summer. When I had discovered earlier in the year that being homebound was going to be a permanent lifestyle for me, I had given away some things that I knew I wouldn’t ever use again… things like purses and coats and dresses. This summer, when I got so sick and started blowing up from the Cushing’s, I looked at my summer clothes and realized what a waste it was to have them sitting in my dresser. Clothes I knew I wouldn’t wear this summer for sure, simply because they wouldn’t fit me, but it also felt like a reminder of all the places I wore them, and all the places I would never go again.

Sure, I could have saved them to wear around my house, but that thought didn’t bring me joy. It’s like all my past fun times of going out with friends in those cute clothes suddenly got confined to my house with me. So I had Susie come over to go shopping.

I could have just given her boxes of clothes and been done with it, but I honestly want to squeeze joy out of every little moment I can. I miss shopping, helping other people pick out clothes, figuring out what outfits they could put together from their closets. So I made Susie try on every single piece of clothing and we talked about them just like it was a shopping trip. And I had fun. Giving brought me joy. Shopping in my own house for someone else brought me joy. Later, when Susie would tell me she wore something of mine out to dinner with friends, it brought me joy. It made me feel like a part of me was still there with her, still having fun, still participating.

That joy was sitting right there in my drawers. It could have brought me sadness and longing, but instead I chose joy. I put the work into something sad and made it happy. God gave me the material and then I tied my own shoes.

Speaking of shoes, I just did the same thing about a month ago when my mom and dad were here. We had Dad working on a few honey-dos around the condo [sorry Dad, no husband means you’re stuck with my honey-do list for life] while mom and I went shoe shopping in my closet. She had said they might stop at Von Maur on their way home and I realized I could save her a fortune! I started handing her shoes and she started putting them in bags… and that’s when I had to explain the rules. There was no taking unless she tried them on and showed them off for me.

I’m so demanding.

But, because I’m demanding, what started out seeming like another honey-do task of packing up shoes turned into an afternoon of shoe shopping, figuring out outfits, telling stories and having fun. We could have filled those two garbage bags full of shoes [yes, seriously, two garbage bags] and I would have been happy to have had the opportunity to give. But I don’t think that happiness would have turned into joy if we hadn’t put a little work into it. We made the effort to find the joy in the moment… we tied our own shoes.

It’s just something for you to think about as you go through your day today. Stop and take in your moments. Look at them from another angle. See where God may be bending down to assist you if you would just reach down and grab the laces.

Joy is sometimes in the most unlikely places. You just have to put in a little work before you can find it.

a to z

Alright, peeps… this only works if you participate. :) So leave me your [K] topic suggestions in the comment section and we’ll see what I can come up with for next Monday!

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