Durable Joy {Book Club}

Durable Joy {Book Club}

“The joy of the kingdom of God is more durable, subtle, and lasting than our common definitions of joy”.

Shalom Sistas

Durable joy? YES! I’ll take that.

The role that gratitude plays in my life has shifted considerably over the years, marked by the experiences of overseas life and harder seasons. There have been days (okay, months) where it felt like I was losing a tug of war with joy-stealers. I was tired of fighting for it.

Osheta Moore’s story at the start of the chapter on joy (the third in our section of three this week in Shalom Sistas) struck me because I don’t know that I have ever lived with enough abandon to rap out loud on a bus full of people. It speaks to a confidence and inner peace I don’t think I’ve ever had.

Obviously that’s not how shalom with ourselves plays out for each of us. It’s something I’ve been thinking about recently, connected with the book and in my daily life. What is really hard and takes a lot of courage may seem silly or easy for someone else. My confidence leaks away and my anxiety increases when I compare my “hard” to someone else’s.

I’ve been trying to celebrate when I do it scared, when I take a step or notice progress. Is it pride? I mean, I’m proud of those steps but not proud in the sense that I feel like I’m better than someone else. I’m comparing me to me, giving grace for the areas that still need some tender attention but celebrating the daring yeses and the brave nos.

Osheta talks about two other areas where we need to have peace with ourselves: beauty and rest.

Self-care in the context of cross-cultural life can be controversial. I remember getting weird looks from other expats when I talked about rest days or vacations. I wrestled in my own heart with what it looked like to care well for my body and soul in the midst of never-ending needs and unrelenting heat.

Osheta looks at it a little different way, though, as she talks about modeling mercy and goodness. Have you thought about what it looks like to help others practice Sabbath? Or allowing others to help you rest?

We might be a little bit better at the first one. We like to help out, to see a need and fill it. It has taken me way into my thirties to see the beauty of saying yes to someone’s offer to help, allowing others in to see the messy and unkept areas of my life. Or, to reach out and initiate when I have a question or can’t do something on my own.

For me, rest means admitting I don’t have it all together. I’m not some super-human that can run on coffee and endless days of doing. Rest means letting go of a need to control all the minutia and bringing people along with me for the journey. I had not necessarily thought about it in those terms, but this is what shalom with myself can look like.

What does shalom with yourself look like? Has anything shifted in your heart after reading this section? Or is there something you are still chewing on? Join us in the comments!

 March 23: Part 4 (Chapters 10-12)

March 30: Part 5 (Chapters 13-15)

Need a fun book for April? Join us as we read The Many Wonders of Costa Contente. Here’s a summary of the book:

There’s a small town on the South America coast where the sweet sea air mixes with fragrant tropical blossoms. It’s a place where the neighbors are kind, the parrots are helpful, and wonders abound in everyday life. Working together, the townspeople always come up with a plan to overcome any obstacle, large or small. Careful thought, hard work, and just that little bit of the magical assure that Costa Contente will continue to thrive for its people and the land on which it rests.

Photo by Nick Owuor (astro.nic.visuals) on Unsplash


  1. Rachel Kahindi March 16, 2021

    I loved so much about these chapters. Everything that really whispered to my heart went back to the 2 identities from ch 5-6: Beloved and Enough. I loved the part about believing our bodies are good as they are, and about calling beautiful things beautiful. These are messages I never hear enough of.

    I also really related to her story about not being able to do the laundry. I just got a house helper last week. I had one years ago, but when my kids were in school, I really had time to do everything myself. These past 2 years, I’ve been overwhelmed, so finally, we got someone to come help me. Reading these chapters on Sunday were very timely for me.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann March 16, 2021

      I love this, Rachel! Cheers for having a house helper! I think many of us like to do “all the things”, instead of thinking about the things that we can let go. I’m so glad you were able to do that!

    2. Amanda Hutton March 29, 2021

      I am a bit behind on this book, but I just finished these chapters this week and agree 100% about calling beautiful things beautiful AND getting help. I want to raise my kids to do that. Also, we caved in and got house help this last year so that I could spend less time cleaning our sandy, moldy home in the tropics and more time pouring into my kiddos and our ministry. It was my pride that had kept us from doing it, and now I have peace about it and see the importance of letting go of doing it all on my own. God created us to need one another.

      1. Sarah Hilkemann March 31, 2021

        Amanda, yay for being at peace and letting go and for house helpers! 🙂 I know my pride can be sneaky at times but there’s definitely a hard beauty in allowing ourselves to need others.

  2. Michelle April 3, 2021

    Haha, I have to laugh a little at how far behind I was in finishing the book. So I have three posts to catch up on. But given the topics I somehow don’t feel so bad about being late to the part. Doing what I can and when I can. 😀 I loved how Osheta pulled out differences between the concepts of self-care and sabbath. And how both do have such an important role in our health as cross-cultural workers and believers in general. Several years ago I had an older, wiser, friend ask me about how I do Sabbath. I started launching into our Sunday routines, why we had chosen in that season to be a part of two different church bodies etc. And she interrupted me pointing out that she wanted to know about my Sabbath, not my Sunday routines. It really made me think about what I do to feed my soul and my relationship with the Lord. I discovered that my favorite Sabbath is a combination of self-care, private down-time, and uninterrupted time with Jesus and in the word. A Saturday alone is my ideal.

    I do have house help. I remember in my early years struggling with that concept. But now my helper ladies are so much a part of our life that I don’t know how we would balance life and work without them. (Yes I did say them. There are two ladies who help out in our home! 🙈) I’ve been in a season the last few years where I actually have my ladies help me make supper at least once, if not twice a week. And what a difference it makes in my sanity and the quality of our family time in the evenings!

    1. Sarah Hilkemann April 5, 2021

      I love it this, Michelle! All the grace here to comment whenever you are able. 🙂
      And yay for house helpers! My teammate and I were both single, but we had a house helper for a couple of years and it was a gift. I felt really guilty at first- it’s not that I had a family to take care of! But she became a sweet friend and her willing heart was such an encouragement during some tough seasons. And she made the absolute BEST Khmer curry. 🙂

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