After yet another long argument with a teen in my house, who I’m pretty confident argues to get out of work, not necessarily for her deep convictions, I suddenly am having one of those mom days that are probably a little closer to wallowing than they are to grumbling. I sent her off to go do a study on “having joy” because I’m so tired of arguing with her about things “not being fair”, that she needs to understand that joy isn’t a circumstance, it an attitude! I told her to come back with 20 Bible verses about joy written down and five of them memorized. I sick and tired of no one having joy!
As I type those words , I realize in the mommy process, I think I’m losing my own! It might just be because I haven’t had an hour of quiet in the last 29 years. Or maybe because the only decent meal I have time for is usually when I finally get out and I’m really too tired to enjoy it. Or maybe because the dog threw up, and the cat litter stinks, and the ink pen broke on my leather couch. Or because yet again, the dishes are piled so high that I can hardly fill a cup of water from the sink. Maybe it’s because the sock bin runneth over, or because the yard is full of dog poop and I have to spend time calling yet another insurance company or medical provider, which should never take as long as it does. It’s so easy to lose our joy and so hard to find it again. And it’s not like kids are working hard to help you find your joy! They’re a little engrossed in their own self-satisfaction at this age.
While I explained it to my daughter, I realized that I am speaking to myself. You see, everything I just listed, is a circumstance. It’s not me, and shouldn’t be my heart. If I can blame the loss of joy on everything and anyone else in my life, then my joy is dependent apparently on others, and that my friends, is not joy. That is an unyielding immovable attitude. I think of the Israelites when they were rebuilding the temple after gathering back in Jerusalem. They were so happy to be building the temple once again, and Ezra 3 says they shouted joyous praise to God. But, there were older Jews there who recalled what the temple used to be like, and it says they wept, and because the weeping was as loud as the praise, no one could distinguish between the noise!
We have to be able to distinguish between the noise! What is it, weeping or joy? I can tell you that when we are grumbling and complaining, it doesn’t sound a lot like joy. I’ve walked around for a couple of days with a pretty straight face counting all the pitfalls of the self-sacrifice in motherhood and being a wife as if I were filling out a score-card. And although I’ve managed to say nothing aloud the last two days, my face and my actions have probably said a lot! And it probably didn’t sound like joy, or if what came out of my mouth was still a form of Godly, it likely wasn’t distinguishable from my grumbling.
I’m pretty sure I need to go memorize five of my own verses on joy! Here’s a few if you’d like to join me!
- “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy” Psalm 94:19
- “The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.” Proverbs 10:28
- I [Paul] know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, … . I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13
- “As servants of God we command ourselves in every way to great endurance in troubles, hardships and distresses; …in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;…through bad report and good report, …sorrowful yet always rejoicing; …having nothing and yet possessing everything.” 2 Corinthians 6:3-9
- “…God is my strong refuge. …He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. …You have given me the shield of Your salvation …For you equipped me with strength for the battle.” 2 Samuel 22:33-34 & 36 & 40
- “The Lord is close to those whose hearts are breaking; He rescues those who are humbly sorry for their sins. The good man does not escape all troubles – he has them too – But the Lord helps him in each and every one.” Psalms 3:18-19
As I finish this, I realize the house is suddenly quiet. I look outside, and in the finally blue sky and the muddy backyard, my children are running and playing, having escaped their frustrated mother’s homework and her grumpy smile while I stole the necessary minute away. And I think, for the moment, in the pursuit of joy for all of us, I’ll just let them keep on playing 🙂