If you've read "Hey, God? Yes, Charles.", you know that, especially in the first year after Charles's death, hope, joy, and peace were in short supply. In truth, I'm not sure I ever expected real peace again. But in that second year and, in many ways, I began to get my hope legs back under me. Wobbly for sure, and I guess I wasn't hoping for much because joy had to be faked. That reality smacked me in the face the day I met a dear friend from high school for lunch. She'll probably read this and she will recognize herself - Judy! We talked a lot, mostly about me, bless her heart. And I was giving all the answers I'd practiced so well by then. "I'm doing fine, oh you know, one day at a time, blah, blah, blah." And then she zinged me quickly and, with her usual insight and unblinking stare, asked, "But do you have joy back in your life?" The ambush happened so fast that my response system didn't have time to filter and without hesitation I gave her my honest, unvarnished answer. "No."
I don't remember how our lunch ended. But I do remember being stunned by the conversation. It started to re-crank my muscle memory of what joy felt like and how important it was to me, and how I'd pretty much lived a joyful life. The conversation jump started my determination to find joy again.
And I did. It took awhile although, gratefully, it's now been awhile. Friends and family and kids all contributed, as did treasuring old memories and making new ones. It's tough, no doubt about it. But if you are in a place where joy is elusive, I hope you can at least remember, especially this week, that He came to bring us joy. That gives us hope. If that's all you got this year, take it. Next year maybe you can add peace.