What is Joy?
When I was a child, my family lived in a small house in Denver. Three bedrooms and one bathroom, with eight people! My Mom lined us up every day before school with a hairbrush, methodically fastening ponytails with rubber bands carefully culled from daily newspapers. Rubber bands were imperative to our family hair-routine!
Eight people in a small space was our family’s “normal.” No one thought it strange or odd or even crowded. I was never aware as a child that sharing a room with my sisters, and basically having to take a number to use the bathroom, was even close to an inconvenience. I remember a real sense of security, connectedness, joy. We were “together”.
My sweet father, after years of hard work and planning, then built a home that gave each of us our own room! All six kids! Alone! By ourselves! What a gift!
It wasn’t until we “had” something, that I ever considered that, prior, we hadn’t had something. What a stunning reality – so powerful in my life. My new room, painted and fresh with my things, I realized wistfully, was a lonely place. I missed the simplicity, the pile-up of our old “normal.” We had been more-together… more connected… more of a team, a family. There was new emptiness in me in all that new space!
This early life-observation taught me that joy comes from the simple things. Relationships, connectedness. Being part of something bigger than me – sharing the bathroom! That bigger isn’t necessarily better … “stuff” doesn’t matter. “Stuff” clutters up the path to joy, dulling its brightness, hardening its soft edges, blocking our ability to experience it.
I pray this Christmas, that your family will experience the joy of our Savior’s birth, and the profound, humble treasure of relationship with God and with each other.
Jude Mitchell – Church Lady