When my grandmother’s memory started slipping we were all afraid as it became evident that something was very wrong. Later the doctor’s confirmed it was, in fact, what we all feared. She had Alzheimer’s.
Something she would say when things would end up missing, or she forgot the name of something, or someone was, “You might as well laugh.”
And then she would laugh. Through tears, our family would join her following her beautiful example.
I knew she was a woman trapped in her own body. But, she was clinging to joy as long as she could. In her right mind, even with it slipping, she gave joy an invitation into her pain and uncertain future. While she misplaced and lost things, we found ourselves missing the “real” her. But, as long as she could laugh, I knew all wasn’t lost. She was still in there somewhere.
But as the disease progressed, her laugh became a lost thing, too.
It was the longest, most painful goodbye and even though I miss her so much that I ache inside and I’m not sure where home is now that she’s gone, I see traces of her everywhere because she left us so many good things to remember.
Love that never dies.
Memories that are too sweet to fade.
My beloved taught me that each day could be an invitation for joy that could outshine deep sadness.
An invitation for joy, even in our pain, is what it means to count it all joy.
There is something profound and powerful about joy. That somehow you can feel both joy and pain if you are brave enough. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, it can be both. Joy is something we pursue and invite into our lives even when everything is going wrong.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
Even when it’s hard we can trust that eventually, our hearts will not be in a place of lack.
When the skies darken and the air is ice, I find seasonal depression knocking on my frosty window. I have to wrestle to invite joy into the dormant places within me often impacted by winter. It’s become less of a thing and manageable now that I am receiving medical care, but when I feel the chill in the air I am reminded of the way I have felt in the past. I have to pay attention to the warning lights inside my heart and take care of myself differently.
Many times I felt like my heart was sinking. I would find myself kicking at the murky bottom until eventually I would surface, swallow air, and a little more hope. Eventually, the fog would lift and I would feel more like myself again.
But, you know how I truly know if something is off with me? When my laughter becomes a lost thing.
That is how I know the “real me” is missing. That’s when I fight harder and dig a little deeper. I push myself to go out with friends for lunch or coffee and do something fun with my family.
There is an invitation for God’s strength in our weakness.
There is a grace that is sufficient for us and power made perfect in our weaknesses. With God, weakness and strength stand side-by-side. (See 2 Cor 12:9-11)
You might feel like a failure, but you are not. You are in the perfect place to find a supernatural strength that never runs on empty.
Daily we can pursue joy and invite it into our lives.
We can dwell on the good things.
We can allow our praise to be our weapon as we remind ourselves how faithful God has been and will continue to be.
Our joy will not become a lost thing.
I don’t know what you are facing, or what you feel is missing from your life, but I know that God is with you and he loves you. If you have lost your joy, go find it. Find that laugh that is uniquely and beautifully yours. Take that long walk and chase some sunsets. Hug the people you love tighter. Say, “I love you” each time you feel it. Invite the silence as an opportunity to listen and be still before the Lord. Put happiness on your to-do list. Joy is not lost, it just needs an invitation.
Much love to you,
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.