The Lord is my strength and shield.
I trust Him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. –Psalm 28:7
One of our friends sent us a video of his three little girls jumping in what looks like pure, unadulterated, rambunctious joy on their new (to them) trampoline. The fact that it’s a cold, rainy spring day in Ohio is doing very little to dampen their spirits. You can almost hear the effervescence of a running brook on a sun-washed day in their laughter and their high-pitched squeals. If we weren’t living through an unprecedented historical event this century has seen, it would seem like no big deal. Today, though… in the current climate of constant fear and anxiety, living out JOY seems strangely rebellious and defiant.
My husband and I recently had a discussion about how much of an odd-ball you can look like these days, if you’re not walking around with a certain amount of trepidation looking at every single person you come in ‘social-distanced’ contact with as a potential source of infection and a wide open target for judgment. Are they wearing a mask or not? Are they wearing gloves or not? Are they wearing the right one or not? Are they wearing it right or not? Are they going the right way in the grocery store or not? Are we far enough apart? Are we too close? Will they be offended if we smile? Are they touching their face? Did I touch my face? Did I accidentally touch their face? Will they be offended if we joke?
Don’t get me wrong. We both work in the medical field. We know the stats…statewide, nationwide, and worldwide. We know all about the safety guidelines that can seem confusing on a good day and arbitrary on a bad day. We see and know the heartache. We cry over our patients, covid-positive or not, from whom we cannot be socially distant. We pray for them and their families as much as we pray for ourselves and our families. We stay in the garage a little longer to weep and worship in the car, so that we can leave behind the weight of what we carry and not transfer it to our children in unhealthy ways. We scrub down meticulously and wash our hands until they crack open because at the end of the day, dinner still needs to be made, laundry and housework needs to be done, and school work still needs to be turned in on time.
But through it all, I would be lying, if I did not also tell you that there is JOY.
Even though expression of this JOY might seem like an outright expression of rebellion and defiance at this time, like an odd-ball attempt to swim against the current, I want to write it down. I want to write it down, not to garner accolades or well-done’s, or to have a discussion about what’s being done right or wrong, or even as a denial against the fact that while we might be telling ourselves that we’re all in this together, truth is that we are all living this in wildly different ways on a day to day basis. History will certainly write this story down…I just want to make sure that somewhere in the annals of words and time, I made a record of JOY as it showed up in our lives, even in these times.
Here’s a list. It is by no means exhaustive and it grows daily…
- Drinking wine on our elderly neighbor’s porch after we stopped to drop off masks, while the kids picked up the fallen sticks in her yard.
- Phone calls and messages from so many patients asking if we could use the extra gloves that had been left in their homes for dressing changes, as they didn’t want them to go to waste sitting unused in their home.
- Unexpected deliveries on our doorsteps that included soup, freshly baked bread, eggplant parm, eggplant pickle, cookies, chocolate eggs, Dilly bars, milkshakes, books, cards, and even hand-me-downs that came at just the right time, because Lord knows that this mama ain’t got no patience to take any one shopping for clothes these days.
- Long, uninterrupted walks and long, uninterrupted talks.
- Listening to the kids play “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” and “Amazing Grace” on the keyboard and tuba, albeit completely off-key for Sunday morning worship.
- Inability to recall the last time I said, “Hurry up!” to the kids.
- So many texts, phone calls, and messages checking in on us and asking us if we needed anything from masks to meals.
- Scheduled happy hours and Bible studies on Zoom and the glorious recognition that God has blessed us with the strangest spectrum of friends that we can so easily share both these experiences with.
- Unscheduled, uninterrupted hours of snuggling in the middle of days off.
- Unleashing my culinary creativity through my own made-up game of “How Low Can This Pantry Go?”
There’s a lot of JOY around, folks. I’m making my list. Make sure you make yours too. When we all look back on this someday, we’ll remember in more ways than one, that there was way more to this season than that which met our eyes…and I’m not talking about a virus.