I honestly don’t know where this post is going. I sit here with tears running down my cheeks as I grieve for Coraline, a beautiful Granddaughter I’ll never hold again, a daughter whose heart is broken, a broken-hearted man I hardly know, my darling wife and my entire family. And my heart says write about Joy. I am grieving over Coraline and my life of addiction and all the pain I’ve inflicted on my wife and family. And yet, my heart is telling me to write about Joy – a topic about which I have no insight. There will be no grand revelations in this post for I don’t have a clue right now how it works. There is only my heart in this post. I struggle with this Joy thing. There is grief in my life. There is regret. There is deep pain. And somehow, there is Joy and I don’t fully understand it. It is there, without a doubt, and sometimes I feel guilty about it.
I don’t understand the Joy when I feel the pain I’ve caused Lynn for over 30 years and I sob in my prayers. I don’t understand the Joy when the regret of the years I’ve squandered with her washes over me and I reach for yet another tissue. I don’t understand the Joy when I feel the shattering of my heart over the death of a Granddaughter. I don’t understand the Joy when I feel the hurt inflicted by friends and family who don’t “get” our grief. I don’t understand the Joy when I feel guilty that maybe I’m not grieving deeply or properly enough. Or in the day to day struggles of finances. In all of this, there is – not supposed to be – but IS, a foundation of Joy.
I don’t know when it came. I know I haven’t had it all my life. I don’t remember kneeling down and praying for it. I definitely do not deserve it nor have I earned it. In spite of my first 57 years, somewhere in the last three years, Joy has found me. Joy sought me out. Joy is a part of my life, my heart. I know it’s there. I feel the soft peace in a world of turmoil. I know, theologically, from Whom it flows. But when? How? There were no fireworks. There was no regal proclamation. But it is here, in my heart, just the same. There is no denying its existence. Even as the tears of life flow unhindered down my face and the tissue boxes empty at an alarming rate, the Joy in my heart is unmistakeable.
I still struggle occasionally with guilt because I am Joyful now and yet spent the vast majority of my life in a stinking pit of addiction that has deeply hurt Lynn and my family. I struggle with it and must take captive those thoughts because I cannot, I will not deny that there is a deep Joy in my heart that was not always there. A Joy for which I am eternally grateful. I am grateful beyond words that Our Heavenly Father, the God of the Universe cares so deeply about us all to afford each one of us His Joy even through the heartbreaks of life. I am quite sure I could not bear them without it, without Joy, without Jesus. We were all Created To Be Free and have His Joy.