I sat for a moment with this one. I settled in to think on what brings me joy, how I experience joy, what the word even means and how to put it down on a page with little black letters. While I was pondering and thinking, clicking and skimming, mindlessly considering and internally debating I came across a link on an old page to an older blog I used to publish from. Stepping back in time and across the sea I read words from my past and connected again with the moments that seemed to bring revelation and epiphany, the boulders that turned into stepping stones and the great mountains that brought my soul into view.
Piecing together the old stories of the past revealed a central nugget, a bit of my core that had been previously unlabeled, but I can now name clearly. This piece is my inspiration for so many things, it is what feeds my righteous indignation and my non-righteous Irish anger. This piece fuels my work, my dreams, my courage, my risk. It defines my place in this world and it marks what I desire my life to be about and bring about while I walk in this finite world.
This piece is Freedom.
My greatest, deepest, most meaningful joys are all associated with freedom. Joy arises when I hear of a woman set free from her past, her captor, her fear. Joy arises when I hear that we are not burdened any longer, do not walk this world alone, and have no chains to claim our steps or steal our lives that cannot be broken. Joy arises when I personally realize and process my own hindrances and overcome them, stepping further into the freedom I seek. Joy arises when I give to another so they can be free to find their own joy. Joy arises when we are free to let joy arise.
Sometimes I publish stories on this blog that are really sad. There is a fair amount of loss and heartbreak and many times when I go to click that publish button in the top right corner I hesitate. I pause (and even shake) doubting myself and my words, doubting my story and my contribution to the world. I fear that words will remain in obscurity and I fear that they will be seen and understood. But more often than not and to a surprising degree the vast majority of responses to what I pen are received well. I get comments and text messages, facebook messages and phone calls that something written here has helped, has inspired, has encouraged, has opened the way for someone else to experience freedom and do what it takes to live the life they are hoping to live. In those moments I experience deep, deep joy and thankfulness. These responses of encouragement and care help me experience the freedom that opens the floodgates of joy for myself and continue on this crazy journey of honesty and processing, growth and vulnerability and they help others know that they are not alone, they are seen, they are loved, they are cared for and their story is meaningful. What a joy!
I struggled this week feeling that I should shut down and edit the hard realities of life, thinking I should just publish happiness and hide the darkness, but as I sit here now, saying what is in my heart and knowing that I am supported and loved, surrounded by overwhelming care and can choose freedom, I find joy. Thank God for those that step beside you and encourage. Community is a precious, precious gift and I will choose to honor it in freedom.
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”