It is a cool August morning, something that doesn’t happen that often. Richard and I take an early morning walk before we start our day. Richard leans over and lets a corny joke fly. He’s the king of corny jokes. He waits expectantly, knowing I’ll groan and laugh at the same time.
Nine months ago I sat in a crowded ICU waiting room. My eyes red and swollen. Richard was in an operating room, his chest cracked open. My healthy-eating, half-marathon running husband had a heart attack. He had called me the day before. “Suzie, I’m on my way to the emergency room. I’m not sure what’s wrong, but I don’t think I’m going to make it.”
He almost didn’t.
I had just turned in a manuscript for a book called JoyKeeper before Richard’s heart attack. Three days before that, I found out my breast cancer had recurred. Now my husband was fighting for his life.
What in the world is going on?
I didn’t realize I was going to walk through two seasons of sorrow, both as I wrote JoyKeeper and in the months after. I didn’t know we’d be hit with a global pandemic. I didn’t see how divided the church would become. . .
But what I do know is that joy is still offered to us. In John 15:11, Jesus prayed that we’d walk in His joy. That our joy would be complete. That we’d have joy that no one could take from us.
In the last two years, I’ve redefined joy from my circumstances to something deeper. I’ve made room for sadness and grief. I’ve made room for laughter. I’ve learned what it is mine to fix and what is not. I’ve ran time and time again to that sacred and safe place to fill up with rest when I’m beyond empty.
I’ve also become a joy noticer. Like this morning. That corny joke is still corny. It’s not any better than the hundreds of times Richard has launched them on me before, but I notice the man who says them. I notice his kindness. I notice that we are walking miles again every day. I take his hand in mine and we walk the 2.5 miles home, and I am utterly grateful.
I want to gently issue a challenge to you, my friend.
I know it feels like the whole world is on fire. I know we are making hard decisions. I realize that many of us are walking through loss and isolation and that social media feels like cess pool. I get all of that, but I promise you there is joy waiting for you. I also promise, even in the darkest of places, there is joy right in front of you — joy that we may overlook with all the noise and hard things.
I want to invite you to become a #joynoticer over the next 30 days.
To see that good thing right in front of you every single day. To say it out loud. To share it with another person. And live in that good thing.
It changes you, I promise. I say this even as I will go through a third surgery for breast cancer in the next few days. This kind of joy isn’t pretense or putting our heads in the sand. It’s opening our eyes to joy in a world that feels so negative, and allowing that to have a place in our heart too. It’s faith-changing and life-giving.
What is right in front of you that brings you joy?
I have three incredible resources for you today.
Listen to this incredible TogetHER conversation with Michele Cushatt that blew me away. In it Michele, author, speaker, former MC of Women of Faith, shares how sorrow is a form of worship. We discuss how joy and sorrow often waltz together. Check it out on my YouTube channel.
In this week’s More Than Small Talk podcast, Holley, Jennifer, and I discuss “What’s Next?” — and how to answer that question when you don’t know.
Read Chapter one of JoyKeeper: 6 Truths that Change Everything You Thought you Knew About Joy.
Once again, Suzie cracks open our hearts, enabling us to go deep. She takes us on an emotional healing journey that brings joy like we’ve never known. Her refreshing biblical insights speak into real life. This message will left you above your circumstances. This is a word for our time! ~ Lorie Hartshorn, 700 Club Canada, TV host, author, speaker
Join Suzie on Instagram, Facebook, and on her YouTube Channel for Together Conversations.
Thank you Suzie for your devotionals, for being so open and letting us see your hardships and hurts. My husband and I have been through some of these hardships ourselves lately. We couldn’t have seen while we were walking through it, how God would bring us through with His own mighty plan but He did, and we are so grateful! Not only that, but because of the hardship my husband has gone through, it opened a path to reconciliation with some of his brothers and sisters. Amazing Grace! Prayers for you and your husband and your family.
Thank you Suzie for this!
Suzie, you are a stellar example of what intentional joy will do for the spirit. Here you are facing cancer surgery, and you make it sound like a biannual trip to the dentist–uncomfortable, but no big deal. I pray for a joyous outcome to your surgery, and that you’ll be trekking those early morning miles again in no time!