Friday, May 18, 2012

I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy

"I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy...down in my heart.  Where? Down in my heart."

How many of you can remember that little Sunday school song?  I can remember singing it countless times growing up and it's one of the first songs I taught my children. 

It has been going through my head and heart often lately. 

I have overflowing joy because it IS DOWN IN MY HEART.  What is in your heart comes out in one way or another.

The last several days this little song has been hitting me in a different way and it won't go away. It's been a reminder of a "sensitive" topic. 

Grief. Loss.  Harsh reality. 

In recent weeks, I've come to realize that as the Bible promises:
  • my mourning has turned to dance and my sorrow has been replaced with joy.  (Jeremiah 31:13). 
  • my weeping has turned to laughter (Luke 6:21)
  • joy HAS come in the morning (Psalm 30:5)
  • I cried out to Him and it reached His ears, He reached down and lifted me from the deep waters (Psalm 18: 6, 16)
  • I have sown in tears, and reaped in songs of joy  (Psalm 126:5-6)
  • He has given me great comfort in times of mourning (Matthew 5:4)
  • He has healed my broken heart and bandaged my wounds (Psalm 147:3)
  • crown of beauty has replaced ashes, joy replaced mourning, praise replaced despair, and my roots are stronger (Isaiah 61:3)

I've found strength in His word, most especially
  • I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart. You know what I long for, Lord; you hear my every sigh.  (Psalm 38:8-9) For I am waiting for you, O Lord. You must answer me, O Lord my God. (15)..............and HE has and continues to!
  • But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do. (Psalm 73:28)
  • The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. (Psalm 34:18)
  • So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:16).....I wear this on a bracelet as a reminder!
  • In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. (1 Peter 5:10)
  • All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
  • I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
  • The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. (Psalm 18:2)
  • "I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27)
  • Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:12)
  • Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21-23 )
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 )
and it seems like this one has meant more every day:

"So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy."  John 16:22

My heart knows it is on the "other" side of grief now.  The hardest parts are over.  I've been VERY hesitant to write this post because I don't want anyone to think that it has been easy or that I'm ignoring the fact that my dad is no longer here.  I don't want to make light of how hard of a task it has been. 

I also greatly struggled with wondering if as I was healing, was I letting go of too much of him?  Wasn't it better to continue in painful grief so that I could hold onto him?  Doesn't letting the pain go mean that I loved him less and don't miss him?

Are you kidding?  I couldn't be much more off-base with my thinking.  Flat out lies of Satan.

Of course healing doesn't mean I love him any less.  Returning to a state of joy absolutely doesn't mean I don't value the impact my daddy has had on my life.  It most definitely doesn't close up the gaps I feel EVERY day with his absence.  It certainly doesn't erase any of the hurt ANY of us feel or solve any of the issues his absence has left on each of us! (It also doesn't mean that I won't have waves of grief wash over me at times....most unexpected times!)

What healing DOES do:
  • it allows us to move on and focus on where we are in our lives RIGHT now and be fully present in it (it doesn't mean we are forgetting him or ignoring the loss)
  • it allows me to share more of him with my kids so that they never forget, otherwise I'm too wrapped up in my own pain that it becomes an off-limits subject
  • it allows God back into full access of my heart because I'm not partitioning off an area that says "don't touch"
  • it actually HONORS my dad because it is what he wanted and made me promise
Healing MOST definitely allows the power of God to shine PROFUSELY.  You can't heal a broken heart on your own.  THAT comes from God and the power of the Holy Spirit.  THAT comes from having hope in Him.  THAT comes from allowing Him access to the most hidden recesses of your heart and letting Him bind those little pieces together.

I was afraid for so long to embrace the fact that I have overwhelming joy.  It felt wrong to be so incredibly happy in so many things in life.

But then I had a powerful realization....

I've been grieving so many other issues in recent months (and longer).  There have been some REAL hurts that this heart has had to deal with.  A life-time of painful issues that just don't seem to go away.  Scars that run so deep and get opened so easily.

My realization came from the fact that even though *these* scars/issues hurt so tremendously, they don't rob my joy.  (OK---being honest, doesn't rob my joy for VERY long!) I'm confident of who I am in Christ and He has filled in so many gaps, heals those wounds, and helps me walk in forgiveness every day (even when my head is screaming against it!).   No one wants me to continue to grieve the loss those issues bring.  They often talk about how it is an encouragement to know some of my story and see that my faith continues to grow through it.   They want me to walk in victory with my head held high.  I agree with them.  I don't believe for one second that I should continue in mourning because of the issues.  I have the right and the NEED to heal from those painful issues and everyone is in agreement of how important that is. 

When I apply that same thought process to the grief of my daddy's death---then it becomes obvious.  Embrace the joy.  Embrace the laughter.  Embrace the memories.  Accept the loss, but don't let it cripple today or tomorrow. 

Because what it means is this:  God is alive and living in me.  His joy is in me.  His Holy Spirit is flowing through me.  To fight against feeling joy and healing, is to fight against God being alive and powerful.   It's impossible.