Hopelessness and The Spiritual Act of Rejoicing

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by Carolyn Clayton

I single-handedly kept Hallmark open for business during the first few years after graduating from college. I bought card after card to celebrate babies, birthdays, engagements, weddings, job promotions, graduations and new houses. Somewhere in my mid-20’s, though, I lost a vision for sharing in the joy of others. When someone announced an engagement and I sat at home with a broken heart, I chose not to rejoice. Worse, when others announced an addition to their family, a new house or an advanced degree, I let jealousy isolate me.

Last fall, I was convicted of my lack of rejoicing and asked God to give me strength to get beyond my own hurt and to share in the joy of others from an honest place. We had made a pretty big move to Michigan, because my husband had received a professional opportunity tailor-made for him. Sure. I was excited for him, but I gave up a lot to make the move. Initially, we were living in a small, on-campus apartment, and my jealousy was too big for our small quarters. All my frustrations came spewing out one night. My pain had put me on an island of my own. I had begun to view all of life through glasses that were colored by anger and envy caused by an over-grown temper tantrum. My “it’s not fair” belief had caused me to miss out on so much. Thankfully my husband listened, forgave and aided in my healing as I began to walk out of that dark place. Letting go of that pain took time, but this Christmas season was so much more joy-filled because of the attitude shift in my heart.

Just a few weeks later, my husband and I suffered a second miscarriage. This one, in many ways, felt worse than the first. A handful of friends had announced their first pregnancy over the holidays, and a trio of women who had also suffered miscarriage and had shared that difficult journey with me had announced that baby #2 was on the way. In the early hours of that loss, I laid in bed and just cried. I felt sorry for myself. I wondered why He was blessing them and my prayers had not been answered. Gently, the reminder came to me through the words of the Crowder song “I am.” When I couldn’t pray, and when I just wanted to let my hurt hinder my healing, these words melted the pain. I continue to battle those tantrums and letting jealousy and pain isolate me, but in the last few months when I walked in to someone’s joy and joined them, I found my load was lighter. When I let myself hurt but then asked God to join me in that hard place, I found that when it was time to celebrate with someone else, I could do so from a good place. When I encountered someone else after tragedy, I could sit with them in their pain without dumping mine on them too. I’ve not arrived, but I am on a journey and hope you will join me in rejoicing as a form of worship.

There’s no space that His love can’t reach
There’s no place where we can’t’ find peace
There’s no end to amazing grace

Take me in with Your arms spread wide
Take me in like an orphan child
Never let go
Never leave my side

I am
Holding on to You
I am
Holding on to You
In the middle of the storm
I am holding on
I am

Love like this
Oh my God to find
I am overwhelmed
With a joy divine
Love like this sets our hearts on fire

This is my resurrection song
This is my halleluiah come
This is why it’s to You I run

There’s no space that His love can’t reach
There’s no place where we can’t find peace
There’s no end to amazing grace

I AM by Crowder

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Carolyn Clayton currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She and her husband, Jason, are about to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Seryn, is three and a half years old. Carolyn is passionate about healthy living, running 5Ks recreationally and practicing the presence of people.

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