John 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
You can’t be around a two-year-old very long and not learn a little bit about joy.
Two-year-olds have gotten a bad rap throughout the ages. Yes, they develop some strong wills. Yes, they are full of sin. Yes, they can throw a tantrum on the spot. But there is a whole other side to the coin that isn’t talked about nearly as much. My two-year-olds could look up mid-tantrum, see a sheet of sparkly stickers, and immediately go from crying to laughing with glee. Their world gets rocked for a moment when they don’t get their way or when they can’t process what’s going on, but as soon as they see a reminder that God is still on His throne, then all is sunshine again. I can see little tiny glimmers of what life must have been like before the Fall, when I watch the unwavering joy of my little children. I don’t know how many times we’ve said as parents, “It sure doesn’t take much to make them happy, does it?” You’ve seen it at Christmas. You spend a month’s paycheck on the latest must-have toy and ten minutes after opening it they’re having a blast playing dodge ball with wadded up wrapping paper and making forts out of the empty boxes. Kids have this underlying spirit of joy. I think of the stories I have heard of children overseas who have next to nothing, materially speaking, and then received a shoebox from Operation Christmas Child and were overwhelmed that the whole box was for them, and their faces shone with joy.
Children are often seen as inconvenient, a hassle, costly.
Childbearing years are often viewed as something to be endured, a necessary evil between living for ourselves pre-parenthood and living for ourselves in retirement and grandparenting years. I hear so many negative attitudes about raising kids and about kids in general. It breaks my heart, especially when I realize that some of that selfish, negative thinking has crept into my own heart. Thankfully, when this happens, God is quick to remind me that my children are so much more than what they cost.
On Tuesday, March 14, Winter Storm Stella raged her blizzard winds and two-foot snowfall across the northeast. Two days later, our crazy crew loaded up in Henry (our minivan) to head up north and see Stella’s wonder for ourselves.
Have you ever been to a show at a theme park that had a warning for the first few rows of seats? “Caution: If you sit here, you may get wet.”
Now you have a decision to make. You really want to sit up close, because you’re excited and you know the front row will give you the best place to see all the action. However, you’re not so sure you want to be soaked afterwards. Or maybe, for you, getting soaked is part of the fun and you’d be disappointed to walk away dry. So up to the front row you go. Then the show starts.
The first few special effects sprinkle you with water, just enough to be fun. Then you may get hit with a more direct stream, and now your shoulder or one leg is really wet, which is still pretty funny. But right before the end of the show, the hidden buckets you never even noticed overturn and suddenly you are drenched. You’re kind of in shock, but still laughing as you exit. But it slowly becomes a little less funny as you now walk around the park in wet clothes. It’s not very comfortable, to say the least. The sun has gone behind the clouds, and you are not only soaking wet, but you’re now freezing as well. You have nowhere to put your phone, the money in your pocket is soggy and in danger of tearing, and your socks are squishing with every step and now rubbing blisters on your feet. Maybe that front row seat was a bad idea, after all. By the end of the day, though, the sun finally came back out, you dried off, forgot the unpleasantness, and the next time you come to the park and go to that show, you run right back up to that front row seat. Because after all, it was the best seat for the show.
It struck me the other day that marriage is like having a seat in the caution zone for the show of your spouse’s life.