Joy is My Birthright

Every year for my birthday, Chef finds some way to celebrate big. Having never wanted attention focused solely on me, I have battled with him over this inclination, become frustrated that he throws a surprise party, that he includes many people, that he refuses to let the day slide by quietly as I would wish. Except here’s the thing, he is right. (Can we all agree never to tell him I said that?) My therapist was talking to me about my sense of self-worth, that I was created for joy and not merely to stumble from one trauma to the next. She shared with me that a friend has a tag line or that bit of something after her signature on every email she sends, that reads “Joy is your birthright.” My mind expanded immediately by the arrangement of those words, by the idea that joy is not something I could guiltily seek or grasp tiny moments of, that God did not make bad things happen to me but His desire for me, for you, was joy. He created me with the expectation that I was worthy of joy, every day, in the morning and as I drift off to sleep. He is angered that I, His child, have been fed lies, have been abused and damaged in such a way that I struggle to find my place with Him. I am heir to the Kingdom, as it is my birthright. As I grappled with this new way of thinking, demolishing old paradigms as acceptance grew, I realized I must celebrate my birthday. If I was to accept the basic premise of my birthright, I must shout out that I am worthy of celebrating because God made me and that alone is enough. I deserve joy. This was to be the big year for me to say yes to whatever Chef came up with and I was going to lean in to the friends who gathered, accept their presence as a celebration of our God and His promises. Then Arrow died, three weeks before my birthday and mostly all this work has unraveled.

Deep in the throes of my grief, angered at a God who didn’t protect my son, I obviously had no desire to mark this day or allow joy to enter into my space, my soul. Yet something unexpected happened as I sought to reject God and His joy.  I received Fb messages and texts that reminded me I am valued and people understand I am hurting. Folks were sensitive to my inability to celebrate, the pain of every days magnified by a special event and still they reached out. People were determined to let me know that I am loved and valued. Much as a skein of yarn looks attractive in color or maybe feels wonderfully soft, it isn’t until the knitter or crocheter begins to work with it, connecting stitches together, that something of real beauty and usefulness emerges. My friends from near and far sent tiny bits of joy that reinforced this transformation of me that God is seeking. Together they spun a thing of beauty out of my unraveled pieces, they told me what I was refusing to hear from God. I am still heir to the Kingdom, I am built for joy even in my sorrow.

This year more than ever I am deeply touched and so very grateful for all the birthday wishes and messages. You all keep sending out life lines and in spite of myself, I am grasping them. You are doing holy work right now, my friends. And just so you know, joy is YOUR birthright too. Shall we all hold each other tenderly and accept this new day?

10 thoughts on “Joy is My Birthright

  1. Happy belated Birthday! “Don’t all roads in life lead to you?” asked Mackenzie. Jesus answers: “No. But I will take all and every road to get to you. Because you are worthy to be loved.” (The Shack, by William Paul Young) So glad you are feeling God’s love for you through the love of those wonderful people in your life.

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  2. Lisa, I’m glad that some bright spots made it to you on your birthday! The collision of celebration and grief can be absolutely jarring but I don’t think that means they can’t co-exist–just like you were discussing. Also, I’m glad that “The Shack” was able to help you see God in a different light. I don’t want to take that away from you. It’s a powerful story (I’ve read it too). If I may offer my 2 cents on this for your consideration: please be cautious about how much of that story you weave into your faith. There are some major ideas in the book that just don’t square with the Bible. I don’t read the following blog regularly but it summarizes my concerns well: http://www.ltw.org/read/articles/2017/03/six-major-problems-with-the-shack.

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  3. Lisa, my heart bleeds for you…and yet I know our God will NOT let you down in finding your peace. Nick is finally at peace with God. You have great memories of Nick and his laughter that brought you so much joy. You have a loving husband by your side. You have older friends from the past that still love you!!! ME:)
    You have a newer church family than what I know. You have a wonderful minister that helps guide you!! You have fellowship with likeminded Christians. You have a blonde Lab that I’m sure is very loving and kind!!
    YOU, LISA ARE VERY WORTHY OF GOD’S LOVE , JUST AS I AM!! He is patient with us and I am so grateful for God!!!
    I hope to see you soon!!
    Gretchen

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  4. Susie

    Lisa,
    May God bless you as you have blessed so many with this message!
    I’m going to try to start each day with this thought…Joy is my birthright! What a wonderful outlook on life!
    Thank you so much for sharing this – it’s something I needed to hear!
    Susie

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