I enjoy reading Ann Voskamp's blog (A Holy Experience). One recent post hit me right in the heart. In that post (found here: When You Want to Thrive Instead of Just Barely Survive ) Ann talks about joy:
What do I want my children to remember — my joy in clean floors, made beds and ironed shirts — or my joy of the Lord? You will be most remembered — by what brought you most joy. The joy of the Lord is your strength and the person of Christ is your unassailable joy – and the battle for joy is nothing less than fighting the good fight of faith.
You learn a lot in the first year of marriage. I'm 11 months in, and I have discovered much more clearly that I often find joy in the wrong things. Many external circumstances bring me peace and joy: A clean house. Crumb-free counters. Squeaky, shiny dishes. A neatly made bed. Dirt-free floors. A sparkling, whisker-free sink basin. Notice a pattern? My husband has. I have apologized about 287 times for being naggy, picky, and bossy. While cleanliness is a admirable goal, I have often pursued it at the expense of my husband's feelings.
I don't want to die and have people remember me by saying that I found joy in a clean house or shiny dishes. I want to find joy in my husband, in laughter, in having friends over, in cooking together and being sloppy as we create. I want my heart to be happy and at peace no matter what the state of my sink or floor.
As a Christian, I should be overflowing with joy in the Lord all the time. I am loved. I am forgiven. I am free. Just that should provide peace to my heart. Sometimes, though, LOTS of times, it doesn't. Instead of being grateful and thankful, I let myself focus on things that don't really matter. In my case, I think it's due to familiar twins: Anxiety and Control.
Anxiety haunts me sometimes. What if something happens to my husband? What if the basement floods (as it rains and rains and rains)? What if the car crashes? What if . . . I could make a never-ending list. In my human heart, my answer is control. If I control everything I can control, then the anxiety recedes. For just a little while, just a little bit.
The "joy" that I feel from vacuumed floors and a tidy bed fades. The control of the environment masquerading as peacefulness is a never-ending battle. The carpet gets dirty. The bed needs made again. The price of messing up the clean is calculated in a discouraged husband and a frustrated wife. The only real and lasting joy comes from God. Where do I get it? Psalm 16:11 says that ". . . To get joy, I need to spend time with God. Sigh. Always and forever it comes back to my relationship with Jesus, and going to Him to meet my needs.
Some of you may remember this song from Vacation Bible School, church camp or Sunday school: