Finding joy…

I’ve been trying to find the words. I’m not sure I am there yet, but I will lay down what I have. It’s been a while, I know.


I have forgotten what it means to live. To soak up moments, to taste breaths, to be. There are daily reminders in the blatant subtleties. Sometimes I listen. Sometimes I don’t. I’m trying to remember, and there are days when I know I do, but today does not feel like one of them.

I stomp, I reel, I wrangle, I frustrate, and I build walls. Walls I don’t even know how to tear down. Walls that confuse even the mason who erected them. And then I think, who am I? What right do I think I have? I am so finite, I am so small. Vast cosmos are maintained by the One I forget to even acknowledge, and I think to myself,¬† “No wonder.”

How quickly I forget the One who performs miracles, who intercedes, who maintains, who gives life… Who gives fullness. How is that possible? How do I become so consumed, so arrogant, to simply forget the One who is the source of myself?

And then one of those reminders comes, a reminder from a friend who, I swear, knows me so deeply and sometimes doesn’t even realize it. This reminder comes in the form of a book (sometimes, the only way I will listen), and it strikes me. It begins awakening me– it takes all of the unfurled thoughts and random notions, the hopes of a life of fulfillment someday, and it directs them, it shows them, it moves them to cohesiveness. Now.

And what is it that I have learned? It’s not about me. At all. It’s about slowing, and pausing, and being grateful in all things. Grateful. Gratefulness. Oh, I thought I knew of gratitude and thanksgiving, and praying before meals to thank God for the food.

Because the habit of discontentment can only be driven out by hammering in one iron sharper. The sleek pin of gratitude.

And I realize that I am the worst of them all. The biggest perpetrator of the primary sin. Not of selfishness, though I am selfish. Not of joylessness, though that is a result. But of ingratitude.

Something always comes to fill the empty places. And when I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me. This, this, makes me full and I ‘magnify him with thanksgiving’ (Psalm 69:30), and God enters the world.

And so I’m learning, so slowly, that when I see life’s events as the beauty of God unfolding, I become grateful, and there I find joy. Because, “The whole of the life– even the hard– is made up of minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole.”

I wonder too…if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually¬† become places to see. To see through to God. That that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave.

And so I’m trying to see, and I’m trying to break down the walls I’ve built to cover the holes, so that I can see Him. So that I can live fully. I’m trying to sacrifice the sin nature, the thing I so easily turn to in order to step on holy ground within the here and now.

And I want to leave the “life so full it can seem empty”, and move to a place of constant thanks and joy and grace. Because, “it is one thing to choose to take the grace offered at the cross. But to choose to live as one filling with His grace? Choosing to fill with all that He freely gives and fully live– with glory and grace and God?”

This is the choice I want to make. These are the choices I am working on. So that I can stop running, pushing, wasting time. So that I can stop chasing, and trying catch up to who it is I am supposed to be. Because, “I redeem time from neglect and apathy and inattentiveness when I swell with thanks and weigh the moment down and it’s giving thanks to God for this moment that multiplies the moments, time made enough.” I want to pause and wait, and praise Him for the minute. Because I can’t live in between anymore. Because I can’t stay scattered. Because I want to meet God. “When I’m present, I meet I AM, the very presence of a present God. In His embrace, time loses all sense of speed and stress and space and stands so still and… holy. Here is the only place I can love Him.” Because I want to love Him. Because I want to be holy. So I’m learning to learn to give thanks.

I know there is poor and hideous suffering, and I’ve seen the hungry and the guns that go to war. I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the starts that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that good God gives. Why would the world need more anger, more outrage? How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us? Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn’t rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy eve in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world. When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. how can this not be the best thing for the world? For us? The clouds open when we mouth thanks.

–Quotes by Ann Voskamp. One Thousand Gifts