Not long after I became used to the idea that life could be joyful, and even somewhat fun, I began the journey of finding out the difference between happiness and joy. Summertime has long been my favorite time of year with warmth and activities to occupy even the most downcast soul. Invitations from birds and blooming flowers to sing their Maker’s praise make their shout out through songs and brilliant colors. The hippy child in me longed for a beautiful ankle length skirt, side hung braid and barefoot toes in deep grass. Soon, frolicking through the meadow I lost my way like a toddler chasing a butterfly.
Settled into the home and my new body shape I became so comfortable that the safety of my faith, resting deep in my soul, would soon be put to the test. The comfort of a home that now felt like HOME allowed the ease of shifting into “roll down the hillside mode”. I traded the desperate cling for life on a rock in the middle of an ocean leading to daily prayer sessions and hours in the Bible to be easily traded for dancing in the rain. The water was still there in my life, it just didn’t seem scary anymore. I traded in the life saver for an umbrella. Instead of fears inching up my torso the blessings were pouring down from above.
I suppose it was my perspective shift that was finally completed late that May that led me down the path of tip toeing, actually, hopscotched down life’s path. The delicate dance of one foot on the line before the dance to the other foot narrowly missing disaster. The tease of playing with the lines and hoping to win the game in the end. I tossed a pebble in the direction I hoped it to go and then admittedly took pride in the way that it landed.
Comfort was a dangerous spot. It gave me the false sense of having it all figured out and then falling right back into the same habitual sin pattern of looking to my own strength to solve life’s problems.
Innocently late May I stumbled upon an opportunity to bring favor to our home through health and wellness. It began innocently as an opening to make life for the family in the house with the teal door so much better. One tip toe after another I found myself knee-deep in the meadow of “I can solve things by myself”. That same enticing meadow had drawn me in more than once before in the course of my husband and my fifteen years together. It was the same meadow that opened and closed a home business and nearly into a separation from my spouse. The meadow that I tiptoed in bragging about the beauty of the grass without thanking the groundskeeper. That meadow is trouble.
Looking from the top of the mountain or from the depths of the valley the meadow was pleasing to the eye, it appeared to be ankle-deep and gently rolling with wildflowers and honey bees. What I didn’t see were the occasional ruts, snakes and ground squirrels. I knew my Shepherd would allow me to run and play there for a while but He wouldn’t go too far, for fear that I may get ensnared in a thicket while pushing the parameters. I was flirting with happiness. I equated happiness with Joy and took that equation as a solid reason to chase the butterflies.
Even as a child I was able to sense when I was doing something mischievous. Looking over my shoulder I would stop to see if my parents were looking. If they were nearby I took that as a cue to keep playing. Silly enough as a parent I should have smelled the skunk, and turned back around when I smelled trouble. Instead I used the smell to follow my nose to see just what was making the stink.
Skunks are pretty little creatures that actually mean well. However, God created them with a warning to sound when danger is in the air. Looking at the patterns in nature should have been obnoxiously apparent but it took further investigation for me to come to my senses. My Shepherd took His staff and gently corrected the path. And more than that He gave me a warm spot to rest my head.
Just to be clear, I’m not ever going to look at that frolic as a mistake, or even mistake the skunks as bad creatures. While frolicking in the meadow I had the opportunity to link arms and skip in wide, playful circles, with other wanderers in the wide meadow. The Shepherd needed me in that meadow to lead me to the next journey. It was through that experience that I found out that happiness and joy were not the same. Happiness required that I rest on results for contentment while Joy required that I learned to be content no matter what the results were.