A strangely difficult, beautiful conversation came up recently. From it came, what is happiness, what is joy?
Once upon a time, shortly after Melody told me she’d been molested… a frien-emy (I did not set myself out as this, but they constantly only ever had negative things to say to me and never edified with me, so, I can’t call them my friend really) told me for someone who talked about joy all the time, I sure wasn’t very happy.
I chuckled to myself because I knew the me that once thought JOY meant “super happy cheerfulness!” But in that valley, I knew that joy is completely separate from happiness. They can mingle together sometimes, but they are not by any means intertwined.
Joy can radiate from those that are broken, hurting, and very unhappy.
Like peace that surpasses understanding, joy is a choice to be made about our view of life and our level of faith in God. It can connect, deeply, with emotions, but it almost isn’t one in and of itself.
During the conversation about negative people, happiness, joy, struggles… someone shared this beautiful song from YouTube. I listened and wept. It was the epitomy of my life from the time Melody told me she was molested, until the day the verdict was read at the criminal trial. I could FEEL this song and it immediately brought me back to the most unhappy, joyous time of my life. It made me yearn for that joy once again.
This is the song, Joy, along with the story behind it (that I found after the first hearing).
This triggered memories of the time from Melody telling me of her assaults, all the way through the hellish three years after the trial, in which I stopped choosing joy and chose bitterness, brokenness, and anger instead.
And tonight, I realized something completely new. Something I’ve known this whole time, but not put together in my puzzle of that time.
While I was grieving my child’s molestation, my husband’s clear abandonment, everything… I never felt abandoned by God. I never felt as though He didn’t care. I knew His Truth, and that gave me joy unspeakable.
Toward the end, before the trial, He placed Daryl in our lives. I had never felt so loved by a man, romantically. I still haven’t, praise God, truly.
When I railed against God and the world in the hours after the verdict was read at the trial, I lay scared, angry, and weeping on Daryl’s couch, and uttered words I will always regret. Basically, “I hate Him. I hate that He could allow us to go through this hell, allow her to be abused by him, and then have the world act as though we went through nothing. He hates us and I hate Him for letting her go through this for nothing.”
I saw deep sadness spread across Daryl’s face. His eyes read pain. I knew it hurt him to hear me say this.
After actual hours of crying and railing, I looked at Daryl and told him that I loved him, but I could feel something shifting in me and I knew I was going to be angry for a long time, maybe forever, and I didn’t know what my faith life was going to come to. I told him that right then was the opportunity to break off our engagement if he wanted to, and I wouldn’t blame him one bit.
He looked me in the eyes and told me he loved me, and he wanted to love me like God loves me. Even when I push away, He wanted to be there to love me, and Daryl wanted to love me like that. I tasted Grace in that moment, even as I was spitting at God.
For almost three years, I struggled with God. After a few weeks, I turned my face to Him, but I resisted Him and I distrusted Love, even though I knew I was wrong for doing so. For three long years, Daryl loved me as a bitter, negative, scared, broken-spirited person. I was so very different than the woman he met and fell in love with.
How can I not look back on that as a gift from God? In the midst of feeling abandoned by Him, in the midst of my sorrow with Him, in the midst of my fear of His will for my life… He ensured a daily surrounding and caressing of my soul with His love for me in the grace, mercy, and patience of my husband. And I’ve known this all this time… yet… never placed it into the pattern of my life: as one of a thousand generous gifts of God to a wounded, bitter, broken daughter.
How can I not want to chase after His Joy when I come to see all of this?