here’s the thing about joy…

I’ve been thinking pretty far back lately.

pain makes me nostalgic, and my physical stresses and mental stressors have been hard at work making me uncomfortable lately.
sometimes it brings back other things with it, too.

I’ve grown up a lot since those rough-and-tumble middle school, high school years.
but sometimes there are things your mind carries.
sometimes your brain hangs on tight to wild memories of pain and perfection, of beauty and grief, and there are moments in which it is all reflected upon.

                                    // photo circa late 2011- my years of journals //

no matter the change in my heart’s climate, there are a few things which have remained, with very few exceptions-
a fast hold onto the truth,
a throbbing empathy,
a moment-by-moment tussle with anxiety…
and that other one…

the fact that joy (oh that most pleasant of comandments!) and I have never been great friends.

we’ve flirted a bit.

and just as I think I’ve started to understand him, started to commit, there he goes- confusing me again… as elusive as can be, smothering me in doubt…

                                                             // photo circa march 2010- right before the height of my anxiety & panic attacks //
                                                    // photo circa january 2012- in denial that I would have to leave for college that year //

I’ve heard countless terrible sermons on the subject.
been told time and time again that joy is a choice.
it’s just a choice I’ve never understood how to make in the midst of an anxiety-riddled life.
my stubborn struggle to choose joy fell into the ugly rubble of failure, and I reaped anger from its fertile ashes.
anger at myself.
anger at God.

stubbornness dissolved into abandonment of the struggle.

I stopped fighting for it and just got used to living without it.

it wasn’t that hard, until I’d think about what a terrible person I was for giving up on it.
everything was dull and ugly, and I was okay with that.
sort of.
not really.

I had almost forgotten entirely about the pursuit of joy until recently in church, when I decided to do some research in the original languages on my phone while I ignored listening to another pastor talk about the sensitive subject. (oops.)

what I found floored me. after years of pushing this concept of joy to the side, i finally dug in deep and sunk my teeth into the meaning of the Scripture.
the meat and potatoes of it all, if you will.
it’s all wrapped up in one word- the original greek word, to be truthful- that changes everything.


this is the greek word behind many of the translations where we read “joy”.
care to know the greek meaning?
strong’s concordance puts it this way– another feminine noun from the root xar-, “extend favor, lean towards, be favorably disposed” – properly, the awareness (of God’s) grace, favor; joy (“grace recognized”)

did you catch that last bit?

joy is grace, recognized

the life-living in constant recognition of the great and glorious grace of God


I am a trophy of grace…



joy is the byproduct of basking in the face of Grace


it always comes back to grace.

grace is always the heartbeat of our belief in a bright and holy hope.

it’s the far-reaching heart-ache of a God whose holiness far outshines our filth.

it is the only thing of worth we have.

the grace of our God is our joy.

the joy of our God is our strength.

this is the glorious struggle.

moriah 2013 1

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