Yesterday I was given a most unexpected gift. I got home after a long day at work, and another doctor appointment to deal with ongoing issues from a knee surgery back in October. While at the doctor a family member was in an auto accident putting more financial stress on an already stressful situation. The car involved in the accident was the one I was supposed to drive to go see my son graduate from military training in two weeks. My family member is okay and I am so very grateful for that. However, now I find myself unsure as to how I am going to get to go see my son. All of this was followed by emotional stress due to some strained relationships. We have all had these days. To say that yesterday was a bad day would be understatement for sure. I was worn out emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. I found myself asking God to forgive me. I asked him to turn to me and give grace to me.
When I got up to my room there was a note card sitting on my bed with Joy, the doll from the Disney movie Inside Out. In the dolls lap was a notecard that said “I thought you could use a little joy and a sign of appreciation.” My daughter didn’t know what all had happened in my day. She just felt the need to get it for me because she wanted me to feel special.
When we saw the movie, Inside Out, I strongly identified with the Joy character. She was bubbly and wanted everyone to be happy because she was the emotion, joy. I remembered feeling like that – but not so much recently. Life sometimes has a way of sucking the Joy right out of you.
But the Bible says, in Romans 15:13 (NIV), May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
How do we have joy in the midst of turmoil? Joy comes through trusting and hoping in Christ. I believe when we teach these principles to our children then we give them the tools to navigate difficult days. When my children were experiencing difficulties I used to write verses on notecards and place them with a word of encouragement in their lunches or on their bedroom dressers.
I surely wasn’t expecting my 22-year-old daughter to do it for me when I was hurting.
Her gift didn’t stop there. There were note cards placed all over my room–thank you notes. Notes that said, things like, “thank you for saying, ‘I’d choose you every time’ and ‘I love you more than you can imagine.’ – those affirmations got me through so much.” Things like, “thank you for teaching me it’s okay to be imperfect and to make mistakes and “thanks for encouraging me to pursue my passions. You taught me never to be put in the box of other’s expectations and “thanks for letting me wear converse to the 8th grade banquet. You encouraged me to be an individual at an age where everyone tries to fit in.”
I was in tears by the time I got done reading all nine thank you cards. What an incredible gift.
When the days get hard and you feel like joy has faded. When you feel like your problems outnumber your abilities and blessings and you wonder if your efforts matter –they do. Keep up not only your chin but your spirit and remember true joy.
Isaiah 35:10 (NIV) says, “and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”
Last of all, if God gives you a nudge to give someone a gift from your heart, by all means do it. You never know what all they could be going through and what you could be teaching your children about the true meaning of joy and gifts.