Reordering Joy


Have you ever said no, I’m not having it. I won’t be hurt that way anymore. Or, no, I’m never going to be subjected to this kind of stress and strain again. I know I certainly have.

Growing up always involves some mix of pain and life lessons that sets the stage for how we manage and function in the world.  We may have drawn lines in the sand declaring we would not experience certain feelings ever again (such as pain, anxiety, sorrow, and so on), and, on the unseen spiritual level, these declarations were put into effect.

Resolving to not feel pain or sorrow or be duped — yet again — can actually harm us because these kinds of vows have unintended consequences. When we block our negative senses, we also block our positive senses. Our capacity to experience joy and beauty then mirrors our capacity to experience pain.

By making these kinds of inner vows, we give the enemy the legal right to mess with our emotions. The enemy has power but no authority unless we give it to him. Jesus had joy as his goal while he endured the cross. He was able to see joy ahead because there was no legal place in him for unhealthy, sinful emotions to land.

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

To experience this kind of freedom and joy, we must:

  1. Admit we have been wrong to make willful declarations about our emotions and what we will or will not feel.
  2. Erase the lines we’ve drawn in the sand and give God permission to guide our emotional lives.
  3. Tell the enemy to vacate the premises because he no longer has the legal right to mess with us in these areas.
  4. Stand firm in the truth and word of God. Christ has the power and authority to forgive us. He cleanses, redeems, and restores our emotions.
  5. Receive God’s forgiveness and welcome his loving kindness and mercy.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

We can experience the freedom of feeling all our emotions, including joy and pain, and know that God is good.

This has been my experience. I have been taking my authority in Christ and have found the most unexpected joy and tenderness in my spirit to beauty and sorrow. It is the Lord reordering and restoring me emotionally as he aligns me with his truth.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.(Psalm 34:8)

When You Least Expect It

Day and night, I found myself checking in on my new hibiscus (a Brilliant or San Diego Red Hibiscus). I brought it home from the nursery in full bloom and quickly began googling plant care instructions. I mean, come on, those itsy bitsy plant tags seem like shorthand for people who actually know how to make plants thrive. How much water? How much sun? I had to check to see how much sun actually reaches each corner of my small, east-facing balcony throughout the day!

I learned that hibiscus blossoms flash out brilliantly. They last a day, maybe two. Then, they fold and drop to the ground. I wasn’t worried, though, because little buds of promise danced all over my leafy plant (I admit I felt a little giddy). This bud was leading the pack.

budding promise

The next day I found this very same bud all shriveled and sad and lying on the ground. I returned to the internet to research what was happening. I learned that some pests attack the buds before they blossom. So – I took a close look. Tiny white aphids had found their way to the buds. I kept thinking — what have I done? I don’t have time for “problem-child” plants!!

There was no time to lose. I spritzed it (okay, I doused it) with natural repellents, cleaned, and pruned that plant with a passion. By the time I was done, I wondered if it would survive the shock of such treatment and nakedness.

I almost tossed the plant. I didn’t think I could bear to watch it shrivel and die. But, I figured the least I could do was give it a good soak with water and sun and wait.

Bit by bit, this little skeleton of a plant resisted the rubbish heap. Drooping buds began to perk up. And, soon, another bud began to reach higher and grow larger than the others. Sure, I knew what could happen, and I held my breath.

When I woke to this juicy, red blossom last week, I was so tickled. Blossoming out

I am still getting acquainted with this plant and learning its rhythms and ways, and I don’t for a minute assume we are out of the woods.

I have new respect for things that look dead. They may not look pretty, but scrubbed, pruned limbs can surprise us with life. Beauty can flame out when you least expect it.


Flowers to Greet Me

There is a language of flowers, and like in dreams or any other symbolic reference,  it is subjective. These flowers say, “Welcome, we have been waiting for you.” They say, “YOU are loved.” It is clear to me that someone went ahead of me to make a space, a space of quiet, of rest, of worship. 

Come, Lord. Come. This is your space. This is your time. 


A Poem: Living Simply


In honor of National Poem in Your Pocket Day — April 30, 2015

“I am happy living simply”
By Marina Tsvetaeva

I am happy living simply:
like a clock, or a calendar.
Worldly pilgrim, thin,
wise—as any creature. To know

the spirit is my beloved. To come to
as a ray of light, or a look.
To live as I write: spare—the way
God asks me—and friends do not.

From: Poetry (March 2012)