Finding Joy

timothy-eberly-410045-unsplashPhoto by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Yesterday I had the kids with me as I worked.  Part of my job is picking up mail from the post office.  The kids love running in there and showing me exactly where the P.O. Box is, getting fingerprints all over the glass door, and giving me a heart attack when they run for the cement stairs.  All in a day’s work, right?

As I was unlocking the car door to put the mail in, both children suddenly darted off and I heard an unlikely sound – leaves crunching.  I was a bit skeptical but sure enough, the kids found a huge pile of dead leaves, mid-July in Southern California where we barely even get an autumn anyway.  Hannah, at age three, knew exactly what to do and gave the leaves the jumping they had obviously been waiting for.  Nolan, at eighteen months, was happy to follow suit and stomp the leaves into oblivion once he saw how it all worked.

Even though I was in a hurry to get home, get on with my work, and a million other things, I couldn’t help but listen to the sound of those little laughs and ask myself why on earth don’t I have the kind of perspective that finds an opportunity to experience joy in the exact circumstances I am given?  I wouldn’t even have noticed the leaves at all.  I had a schedule, a plan, a focus.  But although all those things can be good, and even necessary, I was missing something bigger, something better.  And wasn’t it Jesus, gently explaining to Martha, that when we choose what is best, it won’t be taken from us?

I know God provides me with opportunities for joy all day long.  I just don’t always choose to take those opportunities and make the most of them.  Though I may not always recognize opportunities for joy, I am amazingly capable of taking every opportunity to recognize all of my failures, to see all of my deadlines, to focus on my not-enough.  But God speaks to my heart that it is not my failures He wants me to concentrate on.  It is His mercies, new every morning, His blessings, fresh every day, His faithfulness, present every moment.

Motherhood shows me the moments like this, where I see why Jesus says the kingdom of heaven belongs to little children, and unless we can be like them we will never recognize God’s kingdom for what it is – it’s not just the joy found in everyday life, but the choice to live in that joy, to receive with abandon, to engage fully in the everyday miracles.

Choose joy, my friends.

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