The Day I Shopped for Hope, Searched for Joy, and Brought Home Ajax
"Mom, don't forget to get the science project stuff. I’ve gotta have two more dishwashing liquids, Dawn and Hope!" my lil’ guy’s voiced trailed as he exited the car.
"Okay, Buddy," I yawned, pulling away from the elementary school’s curb without giving his words much thought.
It was just too early, and I hadn’t had nearly enough coffee or sleep.
Later that day, in the dishwashing liquid aisle, something didn’t seem right. Get Dawn and Hope. Huh? I was pretty sure that was what he’d said. How could I be positive with such a caffeine-deprived brain at the time?
Dawn was easy to find.
After much looking, I screamed inside of my head, I don’t see Hope anywhere!
Thankfully, my caffeine kicked in...
OHHH! He meant JOY, not Hope! (I giggled out loud!)
After several more minutes of looking for the correct product (finally), wouldn’t you know it—the store was all out of Joy!
I settled for a cheap substitute. Into the buggy went the Ajax.
Do you have days when no matter how hard you search, hope can’t be found and all the joy is just gone?
Yesterday was one of those days for me.
My little guy was home sick with a tummy bug. Someone I admired said something really unfair and hurtful to me. My secondhand dishwasher decided to go on strike for the third time this month. I got an unexpected bill in the mail. Hubby would have to work late. I missed a deadline. The recent loss of my grandmother weighed heavily on my mind and heart. And what on earth was I going to do for dinner? Fried chicken from the gas station again?
By midnight, I was spent. I sat alone in the den with potato chips in one hand, a giant chocolate bar in the other, and wishing for a third hand to hold my Coke Zero. As comforting as junk food and quietness can be, I still didn’t find it.
I still didn’t find any joy.
Why is joy so elusive some days?
Maybe it’s just something that happens when you’re human and forced to live on Earth. There’s a lot of bad stuff in this world that seems to leave little room for the good stuff. (And good stuff feels good, so give me more of that! Right?)
Maybe it’s because I’m guilty of getting happiness confused with joy. I forget that joy, unlike happiness, is a supernatural cheerfulness that has zero to do with one’s current circumstances and everything to do with the Holy Spirit.
Maybe it’s a little (or a lot) of both.
And maybe it’s because I’ve become a bit, ahem, spoiled?
Just like I wanted Joy dishwashing liquid to be readily available on that store’s shelf, I want real joy to be easy to find in my daily life. (By the way, I want it king-sized, too!)
That got me thinking...
Wouldn’t it be cool (and super convenient) if real joy was neatly housed on a well-stocked shelf in my local store? I’d just mosey on over, my cart waiting with baited breath, and pick up a bottle or two.
If I start running low, no worries. I’d simply head back over to the corner store and replenish my supply.
Truth is, I already have a well-stocked shelf within me. It’s full of everything I need to get me through each day. The Word says that as a believer the Holy Spirit has gifted me these fruits of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 2 3 gentleness and self-control. (Gal 5:22)
Somehow, I just keep forgetting these truths.
Do you? Please tell me I’m not the only one! Some days, honestly, I don’t manifest joy.
I’m human: I hurt. I’m selfish. I get scared. People step on my heart. I get exhausted, sick, and worried. I become deceived; I forget to stand firm against the enemy’s tailor-made tricks. But the way I feel doesn’t mean joy isn’t there, ready and waiting, for me. It doesn’t mean it’s been used up.
I need only to access what’s already been provided. Plainly put: THE SHELF AIN’T EMPTY!
So the next time I’m looking for hope and someone’s stolen my joy, (and I’m frantically searching for them in the bottom of a family-sized, potato chip bag, (sour cream & onion, of course)), I’ll choose to remember His sweet promises.
In Him, there is an abundance of readily available hope and joy (and a whole bunch of other good stuff we need, too!). I’ll set my mind on things that are higher; I’ll get my eyes off of myself and my current circumstances.
Will I, as a mere mortal, allow my feelings to get the best of me? Will I still have days when I’ll forget about everything I just told you?
Definitely. Again, I’m human. But, this human has some really good news, friends: There are no such things as low inventory and bare shelves with God. And... He’ll never ask us to settle for a cheap substitute.
Writer by day, transcriber by night, Renee is a former educator, boy mom, PPD survivor, and recovering fear-a-holic. She lives on Christ and caffeine as she attempts to finally transcend mediocrity and live the life Jesus died for her to have. When not tied to her desktop and swimming in coffee, the Floridian can be found wherever the water is salty, spending time with her son and husband of 15 years.
She’s a contributor to The Good Men Project, iBelieve, and, most recently, The Washington Post. You can learn more about Renee’s journey and her passion for helping women find their worth in the Word, not the world, at The Stay@Home Scribe.
Publication date: April 7, 2016