I’m not the best at putting up and taking down holiday decorations in a timely manner (see Reasons to Celebrate) so I was delighted when my daughter gave me this reversible sign. Now I can go from celebrating Thanksgiving to decking the halls for Christmas in no time at all. And the message is so true— the flip side of thankfulness really is joy.
The sign isn’t perfect, though. As you can see, the letters didn’t exactly fit right on the “Be Joyful” side. At first I tried to think of something to paint in the empty square. But I’ve decided to leave it as is because it illustrates a truth I need to remember: To experience joy, space is necessary. Perfection is not.
To be joyful, I need…
- Space in my Heart— When I began writing this blog several years ago, I chose the name Welcome Lord as an invitation for Christ to rearrange and redecorate my heart. He’s still working on that—making room for joy and other good stuff by slowly pushing out the junk I have crammed there. As gratitude moves in, it forces my mess of insecurity, fear, selfishness, and pride out into the open where it can be dealt with. Pursuing perfection does just the opposite by attempting to hide my mess. Gratitude makes room for joy. Perfectionism crowds it out. Knowing this frees up space in my heart to give thanks and rejoice in Christ’s perfection.
- Space in my Schedule— Moving from thankfulness to joy requires slowing down to worship. I see this illustrated in my two-year-old grandson’s reaction to our Christmas tree. Since we put it up a week ago, he takes regular breaks from his normal state of perpetual motion to simply sit by the tree in awe of its beauty. Striving for perfection may lead me to believe I have no time for being still but that belief leaves me feeling stressed not joyful. Truly expressing gratitude begins with me sitting in awe of the beauty of Christ and allowing the Holy Spirit, the source of joy, to fill me.
- Space in my Surroundings— Something I’m very thankful for this year is the opportunity to use a small, hidden area in my home as a special spot to meet with God. On the walls, I’ve written scripture and names of people I’m praying for. I can simply duck in when I have a chance and feel like I’m climbing into my Father’s lap. Perfection isn’t required for this physical space. Susannah Wesley, mother of nineteen, including John and Charles Wesley, used her apron to create a makeshift prayer room. When she wanted time alone with God, she simply pulled her apron over her head and her children knew not to bother her.
I might leave this decoration up year round, on purpose, to help me remember these lessons and also something else I just realized— in light of what my sign has taught me, being spacey is a good thing. So I’ll leave you with that thought. May it bring to my kindred spirits both thankfulness and joy_! 😉