Broken Couches, Rice, and Joy
Thursdays are usually FaithJam days around here. Bonnie, at the Faith Barista, hosts the Faith Jam and sends out a writing prompt for each week.
This week’s is “joy.” Piece of cake, right? I mean, my blog name is “Joy in this Journey,” and my real-life name is Joy, too. I got this one.
Not. (Wow, I’m really channeling my inner 13-year-old this week. Apparently writing memoir causes a time-warp in my brain.)
Experiencing joy doesn’t come easily for me at all.
It usually goes something like this:
Wake up early, start the coffee pot, read a Psalm, write a little. Joy!
Then I hear the boys’ bedroom door open, little feet pound down the hall, and a little voice says, “It’s 7 o’clock mommy!” almost immediately followed by “I’m hungry. Can I have breakfast?” and then drawers slam open and the fridge door is belching cold air and the solitude is gone. Sigh.
I heave myself out of our broken-down hide-a-bed couch with the falling-down mattress and rub the ache out of my back as I lunge to rescue the gallon of milk from my preschooler’s hands, and I think, “That couch is a wreck. We need a new one. I could just go down to IKEA today and buy one of those with the washable covers, and the chaise extension, and we could actually have new matching furniture for the first time ever.”
And then I would be happy.
But I can’t do that. I remember how many hundreds of dollars that would cost and I start grumbling as hate-to-wait, want-it-now, can’t-be-happy-til-I-get-it discontent festers and swirls. My mood sours and I snap at the kids for being children and slam cabinet doors and eat too much or waste too much time fiddle-farting on the computer.
Eventually (I’m embarrassed to admit how long it can me some days), I recognize my grumbles as exactly the same ones that I rebuked my children for that day. I have even threatened to take all their toys and serve nothing but beans and rice for a month.
I set about the hard work of telling my self that I am blessed to have a couch, and to have a house and a carpet to put it on. I remind my self that joy doesn’t depend on the things in my hands (or the cushion under my behind). I focus on the things I know to be true and lasting and perfect — the love and forgiveness of my Lord Jesus.
Experiencing joy requires me to die to the restless, never-satisfied hunt for more things. Things that wear out, get lost, break, or just plain don’t satisfy.
That self does not want to die. It screeches and moans and wails and sometimes it will even play dead. Just when I think I’ve given it the lick, it bounces up again and points an insistent finger, whining, “Do you see that? You’d be truly happy if that were different.”
It is a fight to the death every day. For joy.
Isn’t that strange?
The journey to joy is so long, and it leads through pain and struggle. But it is worth it, for it leads to real joy, joy that is complete, fully-satisfying, and never-ending. Nothing on this earth can make that claim.
I’m still on that journey, far far away from that goal. I catch glimpses of it now and then… just enough to whet my appetite and keep me fighting.
How do you fight for joy?
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