As you may have noticed, I missed the last 3 days of writing. With one final thought to add to the week of love and an introduction to our next theme due, I decided to capture them both in one post. As a complete side note, but not lost on me, is the reason for my absence. A true combination of both week’s themes, I spent the weekend with some of my favorite people as we celebrated my youngest daughter.
Ally is 13. She has many of the very normal 13 year-old ism’s. There are, however, many reasons that she has had to grow up this last year. Our family life has experienced some changes and challenges. In the midst of that, she too, made a significant shift in her life that really caused an identity defining season. While this is her story to tell (and guess what? She has been writing about the journey!), I have been in a unique season of parenting an independence defining adolescent and trying to help her set her course without captaining her ship. Shout out to all my co-parents in this season. Stay strong.
My Advent themes came to a glorious apex on Saturday morning when Ally had a particularly successful moment in her sport. I was struck by an overwhelming sense of love AND joy. The pot of emotions had been building for months and in this one moment of joy, my love for her gushed forth in overflowing tears. Even in the bigger moments of past successes, I had never responded in this way. It was like my body and spirit had been holding on tight for months and when I knew that she felt joy, I was mush.
Telling this story is a similar parallel to our faith journey. It was out of my love for Ally that I erupted in joy. That is true for each of us. Especially as it relates to the connection between love and faith. I would go so far as to assert that there is a direct correlation between our human understanding of love and our ability to understand the goodness and joy that the Creator has for all of creation. If your experience of love is jaded, circumstantial, directly tied to your worldly success or a perceived humanly beauty, you may struggle to understand how God could embody unconditional love. Having faith in something that is rooted in love, when you have never experienced true acceptance and grace from a human, sets up a very real stumbling block.
That moment in Ally’s meet was one of those ah-ha moments for me. I have loved her through this hard season, imperfectly, at best. With each new hurdle of struggle or doubt, I longed for her to be whole. As much as I wanted to clear the path for easy travel, I have learned that in doing that, we are not acting in love. Additionally, when we do that, we steal the joy of the victory. And, oh, was there joy. Not because it was perfect. Not because everything was complete. Not even because it was all happy feelings. Instead, that day, the joy – beautiful joy – was found in the moment where we were reminded that love wins. Love that is pure and full and uplifting. Love that is encouraging and enduring and painful and true. That is the love that always wins. When you have walked in that moment, the joy is real.
That’s what the transition from love to joy is about for me. Fittingly, the Gospel text this week is a mother’s song. So, I will sing with joy in my heart – not because of my situations, but because of a God that is faithful and loving, no matter the situation.