“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 (NIV)
I’ve spoken many times about how Tigger used to live in our house but then was pushed aside when Eyeore came to visit. However, Eyeore took up residence and I didn’t have the energy to kick him out. God has gently and lovingly been talking to me about evicting him for the past two years. And while I listened and thought it was a great idea to give him notice, I didn’t seem to have a plan or any real follow through until God decided to make “joy” my word for this year.
I’ve been reflecting this past year on why it’s so hard for me to give myself permission to have fun. Why I take life so seriously all the time. I started remembering when our house was filled with laughter and it was back when our oldest two were a toddler and a baby. I ran a daycare out of our home during that period of time and was really living a life of joy. I loved what I did. It didn’t seem fair that people had to pay me to be a mom to a houseful of kids 50-60 hours a week.
However, I think it might have been more than that. For the most part, children are naturally happy. They are discovering new things all the time and life is just fun. Going to the grocery store is an adventure for them. Playing outside becomes a chance to reenact their favorite movie or TV show or superhero. It’s very hard to be unhappy in a houseful of kids. A little one’s giggles are priceless because they are so full of innocence and unreserved joy. It was during that period in our lives that I lost my innocence… and Eyeore came to stay. It was during that time in our lives we suffered a miscarriage and pregnancy wasn’t innocent anymore. It was during that time my husband went from being healthy to unable to get out of bed in the course of an evening and the innocence of a healthy marriage was gone.
While others have suffered much worse situations than we found ourselves in, I think that was when I first started to lose my joy. While I’d experienced devastating situations throughout my childhood and early adulthood, the enemy knew exactly where to land his deadly blows because he knew my weak spots.
God’s been wooing me with His love for quite some time now. As I mentioned in Sometimes Joy Takes Practice, He had to teach me grace, then hope, then peace before He could introduce true joy. He had to heal my fear and then my depression before I could start to remember what joy felt like and experience His joy. When God restores, He doesn’t do it halfway. He isn’t satisfied with halfway healed, halfway successful. In fact, He isn’t even satisfied with completely healed back to one’s original condition. Nope. Our God is much better than that. In Isaiah 61:7 (The Message) it says, “Because you got a double dose of trouble and more than your share of contempt,
Your inheritance in the land will be doubled and your joy go on forever.” When He restores, when He heals, it is written in the Bible multiple places that He restores double what the enemy stole. Not what was lost, not what was misplaced – what was stolen. The enemy reaches in and steals what is rightfully ours through our Heavenly Father, and when God chooses to restore, He doesn’t do it halfway or completely – He does it “and then some.” More than. Double.
I never thought I’d have to relearn how to relax and have joy, but I do. I have to learn that the guilt I feel is false and tell myself to relax and live in the moment. However, of all the assignments I’ve been given by my loving Father, I have to admit, this one is kind of fun, if I let go and let Tigger back in.
© Cheri Swalwell 2017