‘Mama, why are you so quiet this morning?’ My youngest one’s wide, brown eyes peer out from underneath the wild hair on her head I am trying to manage before school.
The people that know me best know that if I am not talking either something is wrong or I have a severe case of laryngitis.
I consider my answer with care….there are many correct ones.
Should I tell her I just have a lot of things to get done today and that is kind of on my mind? I shouldn’t really tell her that Daddy and I had strong words about missing laundry.
And if I tell her I am currently waging a silent war against all hell for my joy, well, that’s just enough to make a six year-old cry.
I could go with my standard: Mama’s just tired.
And it’s oh-so-true down to my bones.
Some days…I get tired of fighting for my joy.
It’s really only a battle because joy is deeper than a good mood and more than all things going just my way.
The second I said yes to Jesus was the minute I was claiming that He would be the source of joy for all my life. Since God is constant, then shouldn’t my joy be as well?
It’s as simple as either I said it and I believe it or I don’t.
But the battle to make my heart believe what my head knows all the time is messy and bloody.
Joy has a dark side.
True joy, deeply rooted, is quite violent.
Maybe not on the outside. On the outside it looks rather content and like a peacemaker. Sometimes it looks exactly like happy might, but sometimes it can look like brave in the middle of the biggest storm. Joy looks like it knows a secret so wonderful it can afford to be extravagant with gratitude and forgiveness and love.
But from the inside?
Sometimes joy looks like struggle.
It can be a thrash to find Purpose in a day so ordinary it could simply be forgotten or a wrestling to want to continue to serve others who couldn’t care less if you show up or not. It’s choking back with hope a grief so suffocating it threatens to steal your next breath. It’s the loud clamor of flesh to say the words we really want to say in a heated moment or shoving our hands out against a force stronger even than gravity to say, ‘I forgive you.’
We wouldn’t have to try so hard if we would just give up, would we?
There was a pretty cut-and-dry piece of advice my father gave me I never forgot from the day he told it to my twelve year-old tom-boyish self after a small shoving match with Tony Brooks in the junior high bus line, ‘You are never, ever to start a fight. But you sure as heck better finish one…and you should always win.’
I was raised to be a warrior.
It’s the same sort of wisdom my Father gives me today when He tells me to fight the good fight of faith in a letter Paul wrote to his friend,Timothy.
I consider these things as I give my daughter’s hair a final spritz of some spray and kiss the top of her head, praying that she will always be a warrior.
‘Mama’s just tired this morning,’ I say with a thoughtful smile, ‘but…I’m ready to take on this day now.’
And my wonderfully spunky child examines her hair quickly, skips out of the bathroom and off to her own battle.