It's taken me this long to sit down to write a piece about joy, and I still don't have the words to say.
I don't have it in me to write about the soft platitudes of joy, the sun rising behind the clouds, the nights that turn into morning.
There are days, like now, when the pain of life feels so thick I can barely move through it.
Death crowds in close. Pain is my constant companion, and instability keeps me up all night. I am functioning in a sort of daze, never quite having a good grip on reality.
I have become unwelcome friends with anxiety, with the fear that grips the heart, the slow moving hour hand of the clock, with tears that seem to permanently stain my cheeks.
I am hunched over like the old and sick, grasping for oxygen, still trying to curl my fingers around hope and peace, the parts of advent I can relate to.
My heart is cloaked in too much heavy sorrow to understand joy. And I realize that in a time like this, I don't need the gentle, bubbly character of joy like the one who lights up the TV screen. I need joy with teeth.
I need joy with grit, with fire, with fierce determination.
I am grasping for the strings of joy that are found in the little things: in hugs and the frost glistening in the sunlight on the trees and inside jokes and the reminders that I'm not alone.
Joy is stubborn, hanging in there despite every reason to fade into nothing, being found in the most unlikely of places if only I look for it.
It is in the ugly beautiful, the breaking open, the rawness of this season.
Joy doesn't feel like it used to. Joy is rough around the edges, gasping as it is birthed into this world. It is this bloody mess, this screaming thing, and yet it is there, and it begs to be noticed in the tiny details.
Joy is here, here too. Joy with ferocity and grit and teeth and fire. I'd rather the simple Hallmark greeting card joy over this kind that is laced with so much pain and darkness.
And yet, when I close my eyes and imagine a world living in such a thick fog, where Jesus penetrated the veil and entered into brokenness, I imagine a joy similar to that.
Of breath finally releasing and gasping for air as this messy, uncontrollable thing slides out onto the ground. A broken hallelujah, a heaving sigh of "We made it."
We made it here, to this.
And in the middle of the broken, there is beautiful.