Growing Back to Joy

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Childhood blankets you with a fanfare of natural joys: fantasy travel, handmade toys and books, shared Kool-Aid. Candy cigarettes, necklaces and bracelets . . . endless bike rides, homemade ice cream, and neighbors oozing concern as if you were their own. Wide porches and sunrooms give generous space to endless conversation . . . picnics, street ball . . . walking everywhere important to go . . . reading and writing all the time. All-day church, shoebox flash cards, scrap-wood go-carts, and more reading and writing. Joy exploded onto everything! From a radio flyer wagon to perspiration, we shared everything. Intergenerational love was a given.

Adolescence expanded our world and our definition of joy. Reading and writing circles gave way to diverse music and people, biological changes, and inquiring minds. One minute we thought ourselves grown; the next minute reduced us to tears. Bike rides became longer, faster, then eventually nonexistent as our circle of friends widened and field trips presented fresh horizons of delight. The continuous reinvention of ourselves was wondrous! We entered a world of question marks and guardedness where sharing still existed, but in young adulthood joy grew nonessential.

My experience may not be your truth. I know only that my reality found me getting in the way of this marvelous God-given treasure trove called joy. Sadly, I discontinued that simple abundance of honoring God-centeredness in every aspect of my walk. I simply failed to faithfully record gratitude in the thank-you journal of my heart—to celebrate this being human thing in all ways.

As a mid-lifer, I see and work at joy so differently now. I take better care of myself “where I am”—accepting joy as a present companion even in a garden of dismay, disappointment, and death. That early childhood lesson remains truly simple and profoundly true: God must be at the center if gratitude and joy are to quickstep close behind. No need to chase it to exhaustion, plead for it, or journey to a special place—just BE where you are! Opportunities for this type of “community service” await us at home, work, or play in any close encounter of the human kind. Joy appreciates everything and everyone—even dark times and “dark” people—readying you for the next step in God’s plan.

Today I try to come early to the party of life, ready to be still, listen, observe, learn, embrace, and sometimes insanely giggle at the lessons that sit at my feet in clear, teachable moments. And somehow when I really, really honor the gift of each moment, I discover heightened goodness in myself and others. This clearly praises—and I believe also pleases—the Creator of Joy and all great things wonderfully made. How supremely fine are these joy moments greatly lived in whole-bodied presence.

Praise our God for each magnificent creature so gloriously made in His image and perfect design! May your celebration of Him reveal a newfound appreciation and jubilation of self.