“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.