Monday, April 24, 2017

That We Might Have Joy

Several Sundays ago, I was having a bad day.

It only took the worst day ever for me to realize that God wants me to have joy.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}I was tired, having a fight with my husband that was like something straight out of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, and feeling totally unappreciated for everything I try to do for my family.

Church had just ended and the baby was D-O-N-E with being awake and wanted to go home, but Sunday school had just begun (yes, we have Sunday school even for the adults) and we had 2 hours to go.

By the time I collected the scattered Cheerios in and around our pew and dropped off the 3-year-old at nursery, the baby was already perfecting his flopping-around-like-a-possessed-mackerel routine and then I realized that I'd forgotten something at home that I needed.

Since we only live 3 minutes away from the church we drove home to get it, but I turned the house upside-down and couldn't find it. This seemed like the perfect way to conclude the worst day ever, except that it wasn't even noon yet.

I wanted to put on my pajamas and crawl into bed to hide, but I had to go back to church, because I was supposed to be doing the announcements before the last class.

I'm glad I did end up returning, though, and I'm glad Heavenly Father didn't give up on me. As I walked into the building just before our class started, and I felt a peaceful feeling wash over me that I hadn't had all day, like I was where I was supposed to be.

When it was time for the lesson, the teacher stopped to thank me publicly for making the announcements (this never happens, by the way) because she knew how hard it was when you're also juggling a writhing baby who keeps trying to eat the microphone.

I'd been feeling so dark and unappreciated, her comment was like feeling the sun on my face for this first time in the spring.

Then she moved on to the topic of her lesson for that Sunday: joy.

I've always known that God knows and cares about what's happening to us at any given moment, and particularly that He wants us to have joy, but I'd forgotten it that day.

It only took the worst day ever for me to realize that God wants me to have joy.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Phillip had to leave for the airport for a work trip directly after church (we were still in an unresolved argument, but Southwest Airlines waits for no man,) leaving me with plenty of time to worry about and obsess over our differences while he was gone.

But through two answered prayers over those days, I felt God's concern for me.

In one particularly angry moment when I accusingly prayed, "How in the world does it make sense for men and women to work together when we are so fundamentally different?" a thought immediately came to my mind: "So you can learn to understand people who are different than you. God wants you to become like Him, and He understands everybody." While that answer didn't change the situation, it did give me peace and helped me feel happier.

The next day yet another miracle occurred, when a friend saw the overwhelmed look in my eyes and offered to take my children, even the baby, so I could have some time to myself.

Another thing that never happens. I don't even remember the last time I asked someone to watch the kids so I could do anything more fun than visiting the dentist. This was like a mini-vacation. And with Phillip out of town and no family within 1,000 miles, I really needed it.

Over the past two days I'd gone from feeling stressed-out and unappreciated to feeling like I was being noticed.

Noticed by other people, yes, but more importantly, I felt noticed by God. For the past three days He had been orchestrating a series of small coincidences for me, all to remind me that it matters to Him that I feel joy.

And no joke, as I dropped my kids off and was driving home along the same route thinking this very thing, I noticed a street sign I'd never seen before. It said, "Joy Lane."

I just started laughing out loud. And then, let's be honest, crying a little.

It only took the worst day ever for me to realize that God wants me to have joy.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I've had many answered prayers and experiences in my life that felt to me like nudges from God, but not quite like this. Not so many of them, spread out over several days, all pointing to the same thing.

It was like a trail of breadcrumbs leading me back to the undeniable fact that God wants me to have joy.

As a Mormon, I believe that God's plan for humankind can be summed up in seven simple words that appear in a verse from the Book of Mormon: "Men are that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2: 25.)

God wants me to have joy. And you, too. Joyfully connecting with God is the entire point of our human existence.

I don't expect that I'll never again have a bad day. Life has ups and downs, which is the way it's supposed to be. But even on the down days, it helps to remember there is still a loving God in heaven who finds ways to help us feel the joy He wants for us.

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Katy said...

God is an awesome God! It's so cool that you could see all the ways he wanted you to feel and know joy.

Monica said...

What an inspiring post! I often have days where I just want to throw in the towel and go back to bed, particularly Sundays these days with a rambunctious toddler. Our church is small, too small in fact for a staffed nursery, but my son is still too young for Sunday School. So I go to church and spend 90% of the service going up and down stairs, running around the basement and just not being present. But I also feel that something completes me by going to church each week, like the little snippits of God's word that I can catch is enough to keep me going in this season of life. One day I'll be able to sit in the pew for an entire service but for now, I have to trust that God's word is enough to sustain me, and that brings me joy.

Beth (A Mom's Life) said...

So beautiful! Thanks for sharing this today!

Chaun said...

Such a sweet post!

I loved this line: "It was like a trail of breadcrumbs leading me back to the undeniable fact that God wants me to have joy." That was sort of lightbulb moment realizing that sometimes when I feel dark and I see little snippets of joy, sometimes I react saying "this little breadcrumb is good, but it doesn't make up for everything else that's happened." (I can be ungrateful in my dark moods, ha ;) ) But I love that reminder that each little step we take out of the fog gets us to a brighter place.

Love your blog. Thanks for writing!

Jenny Evans said...

I can definitely relate. We don't have a nursery during the service which means 2 things: (1) it's really loud in the chapel, and (2) there's always an unofficial Parent's Club in the lobby.

I love that you still go, because something is better than nothing, and better yet you're setting the pattern so that your toddler will be in the habit of coming to church with you on Sundays so you'll both be in the pews together in a few years!

Jenny Evans said...

Oh, I am guilty of the exact same thing. It's taken me a shockingly long amount of time to realize that I should stop doing that.

Crystal said...

I love this so much. Such a powerful reminder for those days when we just aren't feeling ti.