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Joy

It’s that time of year when everyone is talking about “joy”. “Joy to the World”, the “joy of Christmas” and in Advent devotional that I am sticking with for now, Christine says she focuses on joy for this season. I don’t work well in in abstract so I thougth “what does joy look like?” and did a bit of a study. “The joy of the Lord is my strength” it says in the Bible. Practice Co said “joy is like a seed”. But none of that helped so I sat down with my journal and pen and asked myself what joy would look like to me.

Joy is a woman. A tall strong warrior woman with long flowing hair left loose so the wind can blow through it. She stands at the edge of the water allowing the waves to brush over her bare feet. She wears a long white shift but the breeze does not reveal her shape. Joy is not sexual. She faces into the wind, which can turn from gentle and refreshing to a storm in moments, and change back just as fast. She lets the wind play with her hair and waves roll over her feet and ankles. She knows those waves cannot touch her body. Even when the storm comes with its freezing rain, and even hail, she keeps that gentle smile, keeps her composre, keeps her stance. She does not deny that there is a storm, does not deny the cold, the hurt, the unfeelingness. But she remains rooted and strong, standing tall, erect, still only letting the waves roll over her feet and ankles.

Joy is not impervious to the storm or unrealistic that storms, ills, floods and fire come. Yes she stands strong. Joy is anchored. Joy is strength.

For me this picture of joy helped for ground it for me. It also helped me to look at “the joy of the Lord as my strength” in a very different light. It also reminded me of the Full Moon post I wrote about God being above the chaos of our world. But in this one Joy is within the chaos too but standing strong and unaffected by it. Interestingly I, just before writing this, I watch a recommended YouTube video about Laughter yoga, which fits in nicely with the whole idea of joy, laughter, being good for your health but something you can hold on to even if life isn’t going your way. He talks about laughing with your body till your mind gets it. With the QEC therapy that talks about getting it with your heart and body so your mind can catch up. Too often we live in a world where we put our mind first and try to make it happen. But with this idea of laugher yoga, OEC, and walking with the Joy of the Lord, it is much more about it happening in your heart and your body and not so much your mind.

Thoughts for another post another day?

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Give your pain to Jesus

I have just finished reading a really good trilogy, who’s only fault was that each book was 7b2da202b0-281b-4eec-8c63-eb09297dfab97dimg4008-900 pages long. So for the last month I suppose I have been hanging out with these characters and so I am missing them today. The trilogy is The Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb. Well worth giving a month to.

There are many bits where the books really spoke to me. One part is where one of the ships talks about attempting to take his own life. (The ships are made of a wood that makes them alive, able to talk, think, have minds of their own, and have memories of those who have lived and died on them – can’t say much more or it would spoil the books). Anyway the woman talking to him says “how could you hate yourself and the world so much to want to take your life?” And he replies that all he wanted to do was to take the pain away. That really helped me to understand why those we loved took their own lives. It was because the pain was too much. There was nothing we could have done to stop that.

But then later in the book one of the main characters is dealing with the pain of having been raped and it is stopping her from giving herself fully to the man she is meant to be with. Her ship says to her “give me the pain. I will not take the memories of what happened but I will take your pain.” She does wrestle with him about this but eventually gives her pain to him, is able to tell her man about the rape and her heart is more open and able to cope.

I believe this is what Jesus asks of us and what I believe I have done without realising it,

Jesus Christ crown of thorns and nail
From https://www.rhapsodybible.org/the-humanity-of-jesus/

to give the pain of what we have walked through to him. It won’t make those memories go. It won’t make us wary in similar situations. It won’t even “cure” our mental health problems. But it will make us be able to look clearly at what we have gone through and say “this is what happened to me.” I think we are often afraid to give that pain to Jesus because we are afraid that he will take our memories and that what happened to us will not be validated. That if we continue to hold the pain of what we have endured – be it rape, abandonment, seeing someone we love taken from us, and many many more things that escape me at this hour of the morning – then we will keep knowing how awful it was. That if we let go of the pain we may forget a loved one who has gone, forget a incident that actually has made us wiser now, will forget all that we have been through. This is NOT true. Jesus does not want to take our memories. In fact earlier in the story it is revealed that the ship did try to take the memories of one of the main characters but this then stopped him from being able to fully give himself to others. He was holding something back and often that was because he did not want to look at the memory because he was holding both the memory and the pain, and the pain totally overrode everything else – including his judgement of situations.

Giving our pain to Jesus is an on-going thing. Often when we remember things the pain will flair up again so we need to give it again. Very often it is not a once and forever thing. If we have lost someone dear to us through an untimely death there will be many times when the memories of them come with searing pain and that is when we pass on that pain.

Jesus died on the cross to take our pain as much as he did anything else. By taking away cl_after_easter_964813935that pain it gives us resurrection. According to the Anglican and Catholic church calendars we are in that period between Easter and Pentecost and it is a time to reflect on resurrection. I was at a wedding of my dear friend who’s first husband committed suicide and during her talk the vicar said that this was my friend and her new husband’s resurrection time and that it was significant that they were marrying just after Easter. It’s true. She can now give her pain to Jesus, keep her memories of her first husband, but open up into the new life she has said yes to. And yes I weep through writing this because I have my own pain with it too. I can only give my own pain to Jesus again and again. I will still have the memories not only of the times when he was alive and the crazy things we all did together but also the memories of the fateful day and the aftermath of it. But they can be viewed as memories and a constant giving to Jesus of the pain.

“The joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10) is not some fully leaping around

joy-post-hein
From http://www.sharefaith.com/blog/2015/04/live-joy-lord/

being happy stuff but a joy that settles deep, pervades one’s whole being and, I believe, comes from knowing that you can give your pain to Jesus, walk free from it, and yet still know what happened. It is a full and rich joy of living free from pain but of a life filled with memories which in turn guide and strengthen your future.