When I sat down to write this blog, I had something completely different planned out, even outlined and ready to go. It was something that I have been thinking about writing for a while and I hope to, soon! But today, I needed to be reminded of something, and maybe you do, too!
When I woke up this morning, I snoozed through my first two alarms and decided to omit today’s workout and get an extra half hour of sleep. I got out of bed and walked with my eyes closed to the bathroom to wash my face and wake myself up. I sat down on my bed to read, journal, and pray and decided to make today better than yesterday. I walked out the door feeling much better having spent that time with Jesus, but the day ahead was waiting to change my mind.
If you’ve ever worked with children, you know that every day is different, crazy, fun, full of joy, and incredibly stressful. All of those things together are what make me love my job, it’s not monotonous or boring. Ever. Maybe it’s because we just hit the one month mark of being in school, or because the weather just changed, or for no reason at all; but today felt like it was out to get me! The demands were high and time was way ahead of me. I am used to walking into work and getting a list of to-do’s; I actually like having a list and feeling like I am accomplishing things as I check them off. Today, there were many to-do’s, but none on my list. So as they came, it seemed like before I finished one task, another that was more important was set on my desk. And then as I was working on that, something else came up and I had to be down the hall to get the kids from music in five seconds, but also had to make these copies on the way there. Oh, and then they need to eat lunch in a total of 15 minutes (which is impossible for five year olds), and you’re needed here, here, and here. All at once. It’s sort of a typical day, honestly, but it was so much harder today.
I love to help, I love to accomplish tasks, I love to help kids succeed. These are all things that bring me much joy, which is why I do the work I do. In fact, I should probably mention how much it meant to me that a former student came up to me and begged me for a hug while I was in the middle of teaching an enrichment group. Or about how one of my students grinned as he figured out how to construct the perfect model of a catapult to “shoot the cow over the moon” for science. Or about how my toughest student willingly passed out jerseys to his classmates before putting on his own.
So why was today so different from the hundreds of hard days before it? I wasn’t sure. Not until I left work frustrated, took it out on my best friend over the phone, and drove home angrily. As I walked into my room, I saw a picture that I just posted about this morning. Some artwork my friend once sent me:
This has easily become one of my favorite verses since then. Fullness of joy. What does that mean? It makes me think of another verse I love,
“And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Ephesians 1:22-23
Our God fills everything in every way. Whoah. Aren’t we always trying to find this thing, that thing, to fill this desire, that desire? Well, God fills everything, every desire, in every way. In Him, we have fullness of joy. I love that word, fullness. We have access to the fullness of joy. All that joy has to offer at its most concentrated, we’ve got it!
So what I realized when I saw those words on my wall, is that all day I was focusing on the negative things that were happening. If I was expected to do something I was unaware of, that’s frustrating. But then if a student wasn’t listening to the third reminder I’d given, that frustration added to it. And I let it pile onto every small thing that happened and allowed it to become a big thing! What I forgot today, and I think on my worst days what I lack, is that I have the fullness of joy inside me! I have access to Jesus any time I want, therefore I have access to all joy, all the time! And today, I forgot that. I forgot that choosing joy changes everything.
These frustrations of the day are so small in comparison with life’s biggest challenges, but the concept is the same. We have the option to choose joy. It’s often a tougher decision than I think it should be, because we want to just be in our feelings sometimes. “Just let me be sad, let me be mad”. But let’s choose to be joyful, let’s choose to be a light in the small and big challenges and pains that we encounter. Let’s be like children, “for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14), and carry joy with us, shining light, and even changing lives.