I told my husband the other day that I felt like I was becoming more myself.
I was thinking of the night before, when one of my kids was in a grumpy mood. Many times, I would match that mood and encourage my child to get it together, even though I wasn’t too far off from their attitude.
But instead, that previous evening, I surrendered to another thought. I turned up the music playing softly in the background, changed it to an old school Christian hip hop song and started dancing and responding in rhythm to the music. My child was frustrated, then annoyed, then mildly amused and before you know it, all four of the kids were dancing with me in the kitchen and living area. The laughter and giggles lifted us into joy.
When I said that, my husband stared at me for a moment, a subtle smile on his face. He said that he remembered me before we started dating, when he was just an observer on the fringe of my friend circle. He remembered how I danced down the hallways of the church, gushed in exuberance after a good movie or shared with passion to whoever I was talking to.
I sat back, smiling to myself, remembering that young woman. Wondering why so many times in the in-between, I allowed myself to agree with fear or fear of man or distrust or control. I was thankful for the choices made in obedience to God, letting Him wrestle out the things that kept me from moving forward. The laying down of my ways to take hold of His. Surrendering to His will when He said GO (ahem, Iceland, I see you). But in the midst of all that, why was I not always willing to surrender to joy?
I pondered my husband’s words and my own, grateful that the Lord had given me priceless wisdom and experiences over the years of struggle and repentance and faith. But I was also so thankful in that moment to be at a place where I was increasingly choosing to embrace sparkle and hope and silliness if the time called for it. This sounded like more of the me that God intended me to be. It’s so simple in a way but often difficult to grasp.
Often it feels like joy is elusive, some rare treasure that we must dig for. Journeying into the crevices and caverns of our circumstances to hew out a small little glimmer of it.
But maybe if we have eyes to see, if we position ourselves for the renewing of our minds, we will find that the filter that made everything around us foggy has been cleared.
We will see that joy is more than a fleeting moment but a consistent and steady weaving into our days. A frayed edge, even on the chaotic ones, that invites us to pull at the threads, dismantle the illusions, and see this life in Christ for what it is. To see ourselves for who we are intended to be. Women with joy set before us. Served on platters that maybe we would not have chosen for ourselves but that surprise us with flavor and spice. Joy set before us on a table overflowing with life.
In those moments, the surrender comes when we let loose of our control. Setting down our specific order for the day. Pausing the plan to get those dishes done when the laughter of the kids and an old school song beckons you to turn the kitchen into a dance floor.
It comes when we choose to agree with the goodness of God, silencing the lies that have tried to tell us otherwise. Surrender comes when we want to judge the reflection we see in the mirror, every little wrinkle, every little line, every pudge and piece of fat that wasn’t there before. Yet, we hear the whisper of our adoring Father, telling us about his delight and pleasure. He gently corrects the areas where we have strayed and then we must make the choice to actually believe His words. To let Him love us and show us that joy can be as close as our next breath if we choose it.
When I struggle here, I am always reminded of Zephaniah 3:17, one of the twenty or so verses that are on steady rotation in my heart, forming the roots that keep me anchored.
“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17 NIV
What does it look like to surrender to that? It doesn’t always have to be a laying down of the things you want most. It just may be surrendering to the purposes and plans that you felt you were unworthy for. It may be surrendering to the hope of success when every effort has seemed like failure. Laying yourself upon God’s hands in the dark of midnight, knowing and trusting that joy will be there in the morning.
In what little (or huge) way can you surrender to joy this week?
What thoughts are God speaking over you that you need to agree with and believe?