As winter storm Jonas barreled east recently, the forecasts warned of impending doom. Shovels, sleds, milk, bread, comfort foods, and numerous other coping methods flew off the store shelves. My initial excitement over potentially significant snow accumulation was quickly snuffed out by the meteorologists’ mention of sleet and freezing rain. School was canceled before storm even hit neighboring states, because this mega-blizzard was obviously going to wreak havoc on our lives. The children high-fived at the dinner table, eager to start their three-week break from school a day early. But as we pressed our noses to the windows the next morning, still in our pajamas when we’d normally be packing backpacks, our disappointment was almost palpable. The frozen precipitation hitting our yard was like nails on a tin roof. The sound was all we needed to tell us this wasn’t anything we wanted to play in. We slunk back to our electronic devices and hoped for some ‘real’ snow. The joy of what might’ve been evaporated in the face of reality.
I’m often struck by how quickly we’re defeated when things don’t go our way. A change of plans, a big storm, a less-than-stellar test grade, a broken water heater … first world problems can really suck the joy right out of our extraordinary lives, right? Another mom and I were lamenting recently how quickly our children’s struggles can rob of us our joy, especially when we try to swoop in and save them from heartache when perhaps the better course of action would be to let them wrestle with their challenges a bit. From a child’s perspective, I’m sure they wonder why grownups worry about so many things. All. The. Time.
Jonas eventually did drop enough snow to sled in. Only an inch or so but it was all we needed. A friend rallied the neighbors and we trekked through the icy-covered streets to a huge hill in a community park nearby. The smiles and laughter were evident on everyone’s faces. From age three to fifty-three, people took turns careening down the hill on sleds that only serve their purpose once or twice a year. It was refreshing to forget about deadlines, homework, Lego tournaments, youth group commitments … all the good things that often fill our Saturdays. We took pictures and helped the wounded limp off to safety (it’s a big hill with a few unfriendly obstacles) and celebrated when the littlest ones were brave enough to give it a go. Mission accomplished. Joy recovered.
In preparation for writing this post, I researched quotes regarding joy. The one mentioned above really resonated with me. It’s true. I’ve been blessed with a heritage of joy. How often do I live as though it is my purpose? I can spout a handful of passages about joy from God’s word and pull up at least twenty-five more verses through a quick internet search. But do I live as though joy is my purpose? I can craft a fictional story that propels characters toward a happily ever after and offers the reader a glimpse of Jesus, yet one big winter storm threatens my carefully orchestrated (real life) plans and suddenly I’m undone.
When did life become so urgent, anyway?
Can you relate? Are you fighting for joy in the midst of both a literal and figurative winter?
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, he salvation of your souls.” -1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV)
Photo credit: Austin Schmid via Unsplash