I opened the front door last night and a rush of cold air came through. Biting cold that causes the heater to work overtime and almost takes your breath away. With it, came joy. The kind you that feels a bit nippy at the edges and startling in it’s simplicity. It’s the warm and cozy we create because of the harsh bite outside.
For a while now, I’ve been talking with God about my suffering. This thing which came into my door and life like a Canadian cold front with a bad temper. This is raw. This is still being unearthed and explored. I will share it fully with you someday, but here’s the gist: pain I can’t control. Pain I can’t always predict. Pain that needed a candle and a glass of wine to take the edge off last night.
Here’s the surprising side of suffering: with it, comes a heightened sensitivity to joy.Tweet This
A Chilly Thrill of Hope
That blustery breath-taking bite of winter through my front door was a thrill of hope that woke me up. It took me by the shoulders and pointed my chin up to the gray sky and my great need for God in that moment. Pain and joy.
I shut the door. As with most nights, I struggled to truly see and hear my daughter while chopping carrots, onions, and garlic for soup. But I watched for a moment how she moved about the house, gathering supplies to make the dog a winter coat.
Later I snuggled with my son to watch a Christmas movie and his elbows poked me hard in the ribs. Annoyance crept from my lips for a second. But I saw his eyes captivated by the Christmas movie. His whispers tickled my ears under the dialogue, every single wriggle and wiggle like a knee jab straight to the heart.
I slept on it.
What Joy Looks Like
// First thing in morning chill and blanket covering, I wrote what brings me joy.
- Pink dawn, the kind reflected from white frosting roofs.
- Fuzzy throws and books about Jesus’ birth.
- Starbucks: lots of Starbucks, Christmas blend and Holiday spice flat whites and bites of my kids’ chocolate croissants.
- Slow dinners: minestrone soup and chuck roast in the crock pot.
- St. Nicholas cookies.
- The promise of pinecones.
- My $20 wassail candle, which I spent way too much money on, and I love it to pieces.
- A real white pine Christmas tree with colored lights.
- Christmas movies: goofy ones with puppets named Buck Denver and tear jerker miracle stories from the library.
- Deep unplanned conversations with new friends from unexpected places.
- Advent yoga.
- Renovaré book club and real Sabbath living.
- Really making this the year to give gifts with meaning.
- Saying Come, Lord Jesus with other believers around the world.
- Knowing G.K. Chesterton was right: “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly,” especially when it comes to parenting.
- Holding the light and truth of a tender babe coming into the dark.//
Holding the Tension Together
I want Christ joy, the kind that feels the weight of the world and knows and breathes, “I love you,” knowing full well we are all one part sorrow and one part delight.
Isn’t it funny how shame wants to enter and pose in the place of joy? It wants to tell me I can’t feel and yearn and be with the sadness that needs to be felt for lost things. Shame is joy suppressed. Joy suffocated. Joy unraveled.
What if I didn’t have to tie up the loose ends of my life with a soft velvet bow?Tweet This
Remember, joy has a secret seed: it knows suffering. Even in pain and death, hope blooms, the kind that is not fleeting happiness, but everlasting glory. The kind that is Jesus and Advent and truly knowing I don’t have to see the end.
Joy comes even in mystery and unfulfilled dreams and pain. Joy is counting every moment teachable, reachable, irreplaceable and totally incomprehensible. Yes, even there.
In the Five Minute Friday community, there’s a faithful witness to holding this tension: pain and joy. Our friend Andrew, who is dying, attests: “Joy is found in what I can give, because I now understand that the gift of pain is the vital other side of compassion.”
Come pain. Come joy. Hang up your coats and stomp the ice off your shoes. You are welcome at my candle.
What brings you joy?
Share in the comments or join us at Five Minute Friday where we write for five minutes on one word. (// indicates the start and stop of five minutes.)