Last week I went to the big city with my husband. He had a college class to go to and I needed to get out of my "overwhelmness" so I went with him. After dropping him off at the college; I spent hours alone shopping for Shaunti's birthday, finishing with a few quiet hours at Barnes and Nobles. I sat in Starbucks with my cup of coffee and wrote and people watched and tried to sort out why everyone must zoom and be so busy. Somewhere between the rows of books and the smell of paper and coffee my soul began to feel peace. Little trickles of joy started dancing in my head and so I sat there and had my little moment of worship and thanks to God for the reprieve.
Later in the evening, after Bruce's class was over we stopped at our favorite restaurant. They told us when we walked in the door that the wait would be twenty minutes. It was perfect. Bruce went and fueled up the car while I stayed and held our place. I sat more in the small waiting area and people watched again. It was much the same as people watching in Starbucks. Almost everyone was holding their smartphones, lost in their own little world of virtual friendships or entertainment. There was one group of ladies, three or four, all scrolling their internet pages and chattering nonstop to each other simultaneously. It was amazing. The older couple on my left was phone free staring openly at the other waiting people. Every now and then they would comment to each other quietly and chuckle. Once, I caught the gentleman's eyes and they were as amused as mine by the lack of manners surrounding us. I guess in our own way we are all looking for pleasure and enjoyment of life, but I'm pretty sure its not on my smartphone.
What do you do when joy is a struggle? Do you find it and lose it sometimes in the same hour? Is joy that fleeting? Can you pin point some of the things that rob your joy? Can joy be measured?
One really practical way to unwind and be present in your life is to put the phone and social media away. Read a real book instead. Being still and quiet is actually not as scary as some seem to think it is. I think that is what steals my joy so often; thinking I have to be present at every party and caught up with everyone's life. That isn't the fulfillment and joy that lasts. It's good to be involved with other people, to be caring, and to love, but I'm starting to think I do better at those things if I am first quiet and at peace with God, letting Him direct a little more...me, a little less.
I was reading John 6:5-13 and found this about Jesus...He saw the need(hunger) of the crowd, asked his disciples what the they thought should be done about it...just to make them aware of how hopeless it looked...and then he turned five loaves and two small fishes into enough for 5,000 people. But he wasn't done yet. After everyone was filled they collected twelve baskets of fragments...This amazed me. Jesus, being supernatural, had the ability of making it all come out just right. But instead He did abundantly beyond what man could think or comprehend. Just because He could and He's generous and He wanted to show His abundance.
How frugal I am when asking for joy. I think that just a bit will be all I need. It's not like eating chocolate...you don't need to eat only one square...you can ask Jesus for joy and its possible that He will take five loaves and two fishes worth of joy and turn into twelve leftover baskets of it. Jesus isn't stingy about love and joy and peace. He wants to fill you up. He wants you to overflow and to share your leftovers. He wants you to have leftovers.
And you will have leftovers if you are careful to take the time to do what Jesus did. He went Alone. Often. Away or into the mountains. To pray. I love that. It could be "your away and alone" might be in the big city surrounded by many people like mine was.
And I think joy is lasting but not always bubbling. Sometimes it might be doing a work and meandering a bit to hit you at just the right place, at just the right time. If your joy feels lost; wait and find a quiet spot. It doesn't have to be noisy and busy for you to know joy. The best kind is in the stillness.