When joy seems to be hiding…
I decided to be brave and take all four boys to Wednesday night dinner & church. A way to live out my “re-entering” life goal of 2014 (#livebyfaith).
Shockingly (okay maybe only to me) the boys behaved relatively well during the dinner. Only one spilled drink. . .fortunately, water.
(The next week was another story. As they ended up wrestling with our head pastor. But since it was his idea, I wasn’t too concerned).
With dinner out of the way, I asked friends what church activities happened next (hadn’t thought this plan all the way through). Apparently, there was childcare for Knox (the baby), preschool choir for Watts, and big kid choir for Quade & Price.
Which left me alone. And kind of excited about what that meant.
Right then another friend invited me to join her and a small group of other moms. I didn’t know what to expect but with how highly I admired these ladies, just 30 minutes in their presence was reason enough to go (I may or may not have labeled it “heaven”).
This little gathering of gals takes turns sharing. But in order to move past chit-chat, they give guidelines. First of all, you share how you feel. And you can’t say “tired” because that’s not an emotion (let that one sink in for a moment).
For those of us who struggle to label emotions out-of-the-blue, they passed around a handy dandy laminated card listing eight basic emotions (with some subcategories if you want to get more specific).
The first week I just listened while others shared. Then left early (before my turn) to pick up the boys (and get their little bottoms in bed).
Then last week, I sat listening as mom after mom shared emotions of joy. One mom even apologizing that once again she felt “joy”. I honestly congratulated her, yet envied her emotional state.
What would it be like to always feel joy?
Because the list of emotions from my day included: fear, stress, guilt, shame, loneliness.
So when it came to be my turn I couldn’t help but vulnerably admit a desire for joy but it’s lack in my day-to-day activities.
I couldn’t shake the question, “Why didn’t I feel joy?”
The answer came soon after, when we walked into our home…
Swinging Knox up on my hip, his soft body leaned in, his head nuzzled into my neck and he said, “I wuv you, mommy”.
And there it was. JOY. That elusive emotion came out of hiding.
The reality is (as you may have guessed) I’ve been feeling joy all along. I just hadn’t acknowledged it or giving joy a large enough stage in my day.
So the person who is naturally given to introspection, will still have to bear that in mind in the Christian life. The danger for such a person will be to become depressed, and particularly in connection with this question of the feelings.–D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Because if you look at the list of primary emotions, the majority are unpleasant ones (5 out of 8). Since I tend toward the melancholy (and critical), my attention was held by those emotions.
But stopping to soak in the joy? To give it more weight in my day? I hadn’t done that.
Since my revelation, labeling the positive emotions when I feel them, I’m amazed at how often joy appears during the day.
Because joy isn’t an emotion one dwells on for hours.
It comes in bursts. Snapshots.
Do you acknowledge and label your feelings throughout the day?
Are you aware of when you feel joy?
Do you want to know supreme joy, do you want to experience a happiness that eludes description? There is only one thing to do, really seek Him, turn to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. If you find that your feelings are depressed do not sit down and commiserate with yourself, do not try to work something up but–this is the simple essence of it–go directly to Him and seek His face. . . He is our joy and our happiness, even as He is our peace. He is life. He is everything. . . Put at the center the only One who has a right to be there, the Lord of Glory, Who so loved you that He went to the Cross and bore the punishment and the shame of your sins and died for you. Seek Him, seek His face, and all other things shall be added unto you. -D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Spiritual Depression”