top of page

The Journey Back to Joy


There were smiling faces gathered on the front porch of that house on the corner as I drove by that day. The house was long neglected, with peeling yellow paint, a missing screen door and the worn couch that sits outside on the bare dirt with patches of grass. It’s a neighborhood I pass through often, where poverty is generational, and hope seems out of town. The Christmas lights were strung across the porch, and the “Just Married,” sign caught my eye. A celebration, however simple and low budget it may have been, was underway, and something about it pierced my heart and made my eyes brim. The sun was shining on that spring day like it was invited to the party and accepted the invitation.

It was a season of great difficulty in our lives. One where it seems like everything is coming against you and there is a conspiracy you are unaware of. I was starting to wonder if the hardship of the season had shown up to stay. Perhaps it had gone to the post office and changed its address to the same as mine. In the weariness of it all, I began to feel like joy was eluding me.  It reminded me of the time I watched a yellow balloon slip from the chubby fingers of a little boy standing in front of me, floating to the ceiling just beyond his reach.  Even his fervent jumps weren’t enough for him to retrieve his treasure, and the joy heft slipped away with it.

And deep within my heart, I knew it wasn’t supposed to be this way. I remembered the moments in my past when it felt like night would never end. I remembered the strength and peace I used to draw upon to help me get out of bed in the morning with the hopeful expectation of the day. My joy that was not dependent on my circumstances, and I wouldn’t settle until I found it again.

What I am learning on my journey back to joy is this: Honesty is a really good place to start. There is nothing wrong with me because I am having a hard time experiencing joy right now. God knows the reasons, and He cares about those reasons deeply. It’s like the time when Jesus encountered the woman at the well in John 4:1-26 and told her all about herself. His goal wasn’t to shame her, but because He knew she was thirsty and looking for water in all the wrong places but her thirst could only be satisfied by the One who knew all her details and loved her still. So I choose to be honest with God about how I am feeling and invite Him into those spaces.