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Thursday, 14 February 2013

joyful, joyful

last week i wrote about taking small steps to rediscover my joy. the dictionary defintion of joy is "a feeling of great pleasure and happiness".  i want to feel that in my life, i have spent too many years looking at the trees to appreciate the woods. but i have come to realise that it is an active choice to look at life that way. i am in a season of ill health, to be honest, i'm boring myself with it. boring myself because it is a general feeling of malaise, one i want to ignore and get on with life but one that keeps knocking on my door, turning up as depleated energy cells. in short it is forcing me to stop. this kind of stopping is different from the kind of stopping jane and i are both practicing on sundays. it's the kind of stopping that enables you to get up for work the next morning. the kind of stopping that happens for just the length of time you can ignore the piles of washing up or washing and ironing before you get up to do something about them. it's not really stopping at all.

jane has written here previously of how we have been challenged by our friend shelly at redemptions beauty to slow down and treat sundays differently. i remember well doing this as a child. the pace of life was different then, before the 24/7 culture really hit the uk. in honesty as a child i remember sometimes being bored by the quiet. but it is as i have tried to stop; to not go shopping on a sunday, to not clear the ironing pile on a sunday morning, to actively slow down and look at what i do and who i spend my time with, then have i had full rest and only then have i appreciated the calmness it brings to the rest of the week. 

the rest i am talking about is different from the rest you take when you are ill. when you are ill you stop because you don't have the energy to go any further. when you choose to stop it is to recharge your batteries for the week ahead. we weren't designed to go for seven days solid, we were designed to rest for a day. we are not meant to be the duracell bunny

last weekend i had the busiest weekend i have had in a long time; there were no gaps, no space for myself, no time to stop from the minute i finished work on friday night until i went back to work on monday morning. up until that point i thought i had been a failure at stopping on a sunday, a failure at trying to live differently on that day. in honesty the sense of failure stemmed from stopping on the wrong day in previous weekends but through the busyness of last weekend i have realised i was not a failure. i put time aside; time to rest, reflect, recharge and refresh. time that revived me physically and spirtually.

this week i have had snatched rest times. i have found myself counting minutes in my car on the daily commute, grabbing half an hour after work whilst doing the washing up or the minutes before i drift into sleep at night. but because of illness i have found myself awake in the night and i have taken that time for refreshment too. during one night i found myself singing joyful, joyful. like i said, it's a choice to be joyful in all circumstances and i was glad that the time of wakefulness brought a chance to seek the peace i have felt sadly lacking this week. i am grateful to shelly for challenging us to think differently about sundays. previously i would not have thought there was a difference between stopping and resting due to illness and stopping and resting full stop. why? because i didn't stop to think about it. at the outset i told shelly i wasn't sure if i would be able to do it but i wanted to at least try to build the memory muscle. it's been a matter of weeks since we started, that muscle is already getting stronger and is one i am actively trying to build.

today at my desk joyful, joyful came into my head again. this time i was reminded of the updated version featuring lauren hill in sister act 2. in the middle of the night i sounded like her, at least in my head. here is the real thing - i'm a sucker for a musical number.


linking with emily for the first time at imperfect prose


  1. Emma, welcome to the Imperfect Prose community! I enjoyed reading your words, today. Funny: here I am, almost 39, and I still get a thrill when I know I'm reading the words of someone on another continent. (I've never been outside of the U.S.) I'm sorry about your illness and am lifting you up in prayer right this minute. I loved reading how you are trying to find refreshment even in your interrupted sleep. A few years ago, I decided to assume that--if I were awakened in the middle of the night--it was for the purpose of prayer. I just sort of ask the Lord who He wants me to remember, and He sends different people to my mind. It's a wonderful thing, and it's totally changed my way of thinking about my interrupted sleep. (I used to be a real bear about it!) God bless!

  2. resting does make a difference, doesn't it? a full stop, like you said.

    we are in a crazy season right now, but i know if i don't stop the madness for at least a chunk of time here and there -- and laugh, drink a glass of wine, play the piano and put my feet up . . . i start to die. and part of that death may be because i believe i am irreplaceable and things will not continue if i don't hold up the world. someone once said "sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God." and to that i say AMEN.

    and good night. :)

  3. I have always been really big on the one-day-off each week thing. I don't do it very well and get distracted by all kinds of pointless activities, but I still do it and really can't imagine life without it. I hope you find yourself thriving in it more and more!

  4. So often music, and lyrics are a path out of the doldrums and into joy, thanks for reminding me of this today.

  5. Welcome to the imperfect prose community. I haven't linked the last couple of weeks, but I've met so many lovely writers in this space. And so glad to hear that you are part of Shelly's Sabbath community. I think she's got something really exciting going on there. I believe the Sabbath is very dear to the heart of the One who created it.

    I often find myself awake in the middle of the night and am so thankful for the hymns I can sing to myself in the darkness. And--Joyful, Joyful was the recessional hymn for my daughter's wedding, so it will always be very special. My son played the Jim Brickman version. If you don't know it, you'll have to check it out.

    Nice to meet you. Blessings.

  6. Emma (and Jane) I'm so glad you girls linked up with the Imperfect community! Shelly is a dear friend of ours, and a member of the Imperfect team. You know, I don't know if I agree with the dictionary's definition of joy :) I think it is more tightly linked with sorrow than we realize. I think it's peace, in spite of sorrow... a deep-rooted contentment that all is well with my soul, in spite of physical troubles. Bless you. e.

  7. Visiting here from IP! Welcome!

  8. This made me smile. I'm visiting from IP, but I'm doing Shelly's Sabbath challenge, too. Since I'm writing this early on a Sunday morning, am I giving myself away as failing? I don't know. I actually got up early so I could enjoy some of this community time before my house awakes and my duties begin. So, stopping has many meanings for me, too. I'm building the memory muscle, like you - great way to put it. Glad to be connected with you!