There is a lot of laughter in our house. High-pitched little girl giggles; squeals of delight; deep belly laughter; uncontrollable tears-in-your-eyes laughter. Oh, there are tears and tantrums too (not just from the toddler and threenager, unfortunately) but mostly, there is joy.
We sing a lot, sometimes real songs, sometimes making up the words as we go along. And my daughters dance – unashamed, unrestrained, completely free in their expression of joy. Sometimes I dance with them, but I can’t match their exuberance or their lack of concern in their movements. I wish they would never lose that innocence, that they would never feel the need to curb the way they show joy for fear that those watching might frown at them instead of smile.
We are not wealthy. We don’t have a fancy-shmancy TV. Our couch bears evidence to frequent use by little people with sticky fingers who spill milk and don’t always take their shoes off before jumping up and down. Fingerprints on the windows. A laundry basket that never empties itself. Muddy pawprints on the duvet cover. The art on the walls provided by the children who live in the house (paper not always required).
“You have made known to me the paths of life; you fill me with joy in your presence.” Acts 2:28 (NIV)
And yet, we are rich beyond measure in the things that matter. Two parents, committed to each other, to our children. Four grandparents, all still alive and part of our daughters’ lives. Uncles, aunts, cousins, friends. A cat who plays gently, most of the time, and doesn’t fight back when little fingers poke and pinch. God, who holds everything together, whose presence is always there in one way or another – calming, comforting, giving strength to make it through the bath-and-bedtime routine.
This is what I want my daughters to know: that whatever happiness stuff brings is only fleeting, but that true, lasting joy – the only kind that means anything – cannot be bought. Joy is a gift from God, the joy-bringers are the people and the blessings He pours into our lives.
What brings you joy?