Tuesday, November 19, 2013

When You Peel Back Layers....


We all know who it comes from and that it's not circumstantial. I can choose joy in the midst of any one of the hundreds of trials life throws at me.  I can find joy in the small things...like a hummingbird at my window this morning.  I can choose joy when my kids are grumpy, when my husband did not meet my expectations, or the house is (once again) in need of cleaning.

But choosing joy is a lot harder than it seems.

I used to think it was easy. I think because back in America, if I ever began to have feelings of sadness, loneliness, what have you....I could easily "stuff it" or fill that hole by any number of things we Americans do: start a new hobby, go shopping and buy something to give a temporary satisfying "fill", visit a friend, take the kids out to eat so I don't have to face the pile of dishes at the end of cooking, sign up for another activity to keep me busy.  I never really ran out of options to temporarily give me joy. So choose joy? Sure. Easy. Let me plan something to do. Get a plan going for the day.

Here in Uganda, it's a whole different ballgame. I have been challenged with choosing joy.  There is no "shopping trip".  When the boredom of a day sets in and I have no car to go anywhere, I have to deal.  When my marriage starts to show signs of wear (not having the regular "Boog & Flo date nights" we are used to), we have to deal.  When sadness of not having family and friends close by to run and chat with, I have to deal. I have to deal with the unmet expectations, the loneliness, boredom, and all the other emotions that I don't like to deal with. There is no quick fix.  There is no filler.  You deal.

Being a "missionary family" this year has really highlighted our coping abilities. Mine, I decided, need some work.  But it's given me an incredible present. I have come face to face with my ugly.  I have peeled back layers in myself and the relationship with my husband and my children and it's exposed some areas where I really thought I had it DOWN!

How about that?  I'm 36 years old and learning some of my weaknesses actually are things I thought were my strengths in America.  That's a hard thing to look at....the ugly, the scars....and see beneath the layers upon layers of  "filler" through the years.

Psalm 16:11 has been on mine and Boog's heart now for over a year.
"You make known to me the path of life. In your presence is fullness of joy. In your right hand are pleasures forever."

It's no small note that it's absolutely one of the most challenging things for me here, personally. Finding joy in Him, regardless of circumstance, regardless of what I think I lack, regardless of my emotions.

Seeing our dear friend Pastor Earnest choose joy despite his circumstances is humbling. And it's in peeling back my own layers that I'm hopeful of growth and restoration and the promises of life more abundant.....the ability to see, feel, and know The Joy from a place so deep that knows the difference between yucky, preservative, fake filler and the real, life-giving Joy.

 My marriage is a beautiful journey. My children are my pleasure.  I have no doubt that this revelation and growth WILL be a blessing....for all of us.


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