Joy has been elusive in my life. Growing up as I did, victimized by abuse, I can't ever remember feeling lighthearted or carefree. Sexual abuse is a heavy load for a child to carry and I was bent down under the weight of it.
Then I grew up, and God healed me from much of that shame. But still, feeling joy was as foreign to me as feeling pure. Until this past year. Along with that pinching nerve pain in my back came a new understanding of grace. One I could live with. It doesn't matter how good I am. What matters is how good my Jesus is.
After a lifetime of fear, negative thinking, and beating myself up, I've learned to be fully present in the simple moments of my day. And that is where, unexpectedly, joy shows up: in the sunbeams dancing across the tile floor; in the beautiful redness of the Northern Cardinal as he lands on my feeder; in my little dog seeking out the best spot to sunbathe; even in the bleating of the cows next door.
This professed city girl has embraced fully this country life that I moved into back before Christmas. I've been feeling so good that I start to feel guilty. I've been feeling so good that I start looking for the next bad thing. Then I remember my new understanding of grace. I don't have to fear being punished because I'm not good enough. I don't have to try doing enough good things so that I won't be punished. Jesus' goodness forgives my sins and loves me just as I am. And when I remember that, then I can feel joy.
"I pray that God, the source of hopr, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit", Romans 15:13. NLT