Tomorrow I turn 35 years old. I am bald. I am a bald 35 year old woman. Weird, isn't it?!? I never thought I would have no hair, let alone at such a young age. Well, it's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to.
But, I don't, and I won't. I've been asking a specific prayer these days. That I would be full of joy. I don't feel especially joyful, but I'm asking for it anyways. I want my life to be marked by joy more than any other trait I think. Love, of course, but joy too.
You see, I've encountered a little problem. I've found out that I'm not a very gracious person. I always suspected such, but now that I'm faced with looks of pity and stares that question my odd hair choice, I want to lash out. Ugly stuff. I've even taken to avoiding people. (if you know me, even a little bit, you'll know this is weird--people are my thing) I suspect that part of my ungrace (I may have just made that word up...it has a glaring red line under it, but I'm sticking to it) is linked to a lack of joy.
Don't misunderstand me. I think having to comfort others who feel bad about my cancer is avoidable. In fact, let's just expect that I will likely do that. But, where I have room to grow is when I am ungracious to caring friends; when I avoid someone simply because I am not feeling pretty; when I fall into cyclical thoughts of despair and it causes me to lash out. I want to, in those moments especially, cling to the thing that can bring me deep joy: namely, Christ himself.
I am learning a lot from Paul. Goodness, a good portion of the new testament was penned by the man and those words are striking me in new fashion. The love and joy he felt for Christ and others was often written from a dark jail corner, and after he had endured some major hardship like a beating or shipwreck. This joy-in-the-darkness is the place I want to live from. These days there is plenty of darkness to be found. But, where is my joy?
This self-realization, my need for joyous living, has prompted a new prayer. Now, I ask for help trusting God, for healing, and for forgiveness for my lack of grace for others. I found myself just this very morning asking to experience true joy. I am a work in progress, Lord knows, but oh how I desire to be one coloured with the tones of joy!
So tomorrow, on my 35th birthday, I'm taking my bald-headed self on whatever adventures may come. I'm going to live and love well. I'm going to endure these trials with the strength that God provides, all the while seeking out J-O-Y !