|Look at the joy in that face; she wasn't even close to winning...|
Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and joy in His dwelling place.
1 Chronicles 16:27
Joy has become an interesting word. It is all over the internet: Choose Joy, Surprised by Joy, even Finding Joy in an Ordinary World.... Once upon a time, I thought happiness and joy were synonymous. I thought of them like twin events with balloons and streamers, ice cream and cake - kind of like birthday parties. Kind of like the way birthday parties and Christmas made me feel as a child. Full of anticipation, receiving gifts, time off from school, good food, family get togethers.... Smiles and laughter all around.
My vision of joy was event-oriented. It came at certain times, when conditions were just right. The feeling wasn't part of me - it was part of my surroundings. It was the atmosphere, the circumstance, the company I kept. It was transient and ever-changing. It was happiness - based out of happenstance.
Joy is different. Where happiness comes in bits and pieces, joy is complete.
My daughter taught me about joy. It is easy, when you meet her, to think of her life as simple and single-dimensional. It has been written that she suffers from Down Syndrome. I disagree. I used to think that she was blessed with Down Syndrome, but that's not true either. I don't believe she would have chosen to be differently abled, so, to her, Down's is probably not a blessing. But I do believe she has chosen joy in her life and has chosen joy in her different ability.
She is neither simple or single-dimensional. True, she sees the world through a lens of in-the-moment and here-and-now. It is difficult, if not impossible for her to grasp and understand many of the abstracts in the world around her. To my daughter, the world is entirely what-you-see-is-what-you-get. But, her vision is colored by the turmoil and flow of emotions that touch her life. She reads the feelings of those around her. She lives out loud in purity of spirit; she doesn't hide her feelings; she doesn't comprehend sarcasm. She wouldn't understand enmity. But she senses it.
Sierra has experienced rejection, yet she reaches out to everyone she meets - with a smile and a hug. She doesn't always win at games, yet she encourages her opponents. She isn't usually picked to be on a winning team or in a group, yet she congratulates those who are. I have seen her fight back tears, yet hold the hand of the one who caused them. She, unlike typical kids, doesn't know what to expect in rehearsals, classes, or youth meetings, but she bravely forges her way into new social situations and conquers the unknown. She doesn't judge; she finds the good in those around her. Watching her grow up has given me the opportunity to see that these acts I once thought came from her inability to understand the events around her, were actually choices she has made because she feels the emotions. Imagine. Joy is that choice you make to see the positive in a negative world. Joy is the attitude adopted in the face of difficulty - the conscious effort to see light in darkness. It takes strength to choose joy. Strength and grace. I see those in my girl, strength and grace.
Thank you, God, for the blessing of my daughter, who is full of your strength and joy.