Thursday, March 8, 2012

joy is fullness, letter fifteen, hilary to preston

On Tuesdays and Thursdays around these parts, Preston and I write letters back and forth. We share the wonder of mystery, grace and our encounters with mercy. We hope to see you in the comments. Read the letter I'm responding to here.

Dear Preston,

The book contract! I wish you could see the smile I smiled at the thought of that arriving for you in the mail. I smiled as I prayed on my way home from Starbucks where I had tried (unsuccessfully) to finish my thesis over the weekend. I did, thankfully, finish it somewhere else. But I smiled wide and bright for you. That is a gift, a joy - and I hope that in the midst of pondering what it means and what you'll write and if you can even manage it - you'll smile bright and wide for yourself too.

I want to tell you a story from my week. It's silly on one level and incredibly not silly on another. It reminded me that, as you so beautifully said, He is the wind in the door that we do not see coming. He breaks through when we do not expect Him.

He broke through to me when I danced to "Glad You Came" in an apartment that is not mine, with a 10 month old girl who is also not mine, wearing my old jeans and a really purple cardigan. I put on the "Dance" playlist and I danced with her, holding her small hands and bobbing back and forth. We laughed and shrieked along to the music. We forgot that the windows were open and several guys in baggy sweatpants and jerseys looked at me like I had completely lost my mind. They couldn't see the joy on our faces. 

I danced and she laughed. She laughed a belly laugh I could hear echo inside me. And I laughed too. We shimmied our shoulders and our hips and jumped around until we were exhausted. Then we sat down on the floor and played with colorful cloth blocks. 

Why am I telling you this? God collided with me in a pop song with a 10 month old girl on a Tuesday morning. "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." We sell that joy so cheap. We don't count it as a gift. We don't chase after it. We don't even pray for it most of the time. 

We are so busy asking for all the things we don't have yet that we forget His joy is already full in us. That it overflows. His joy doesn't need a plan to be complete. 

I had a pop song with a serious beat, sunshine, a laughing girl in purple tights and a pink dress, old jeans and a purple sweater. I hadn't asked Him for any of those things. I'd asked for all sorts of other things - a floodlight into the future, a blueprint of how to stop being jealous and start rejoicing... and He met me in a pop song on a Tuesday morning. 

Do you think we can learn to let His joy be that contagious, that we catch it everywhere, with each small thing? Do you think grace might be that audacious, that it settles into our hearts when we are doing something so unexpected, even silly?

I think so. I really do. I'm praying for that joy to overwhelm you in some coffee shop some morning in chapter 4 of your book, when you feel like you have no idea how it all continues, and you're afraid of it continuing. I'm praying that the God who delights in our being, in our very existence, keeps meeting you on street corners while stopped at traffic lights, and in church pews, and in restaurants, and in ceramics class.

May we both keep learning that His joy is always fullness.



  1. What a wonderful blog!! You're very talented. I look forward to reading more of your work. You definitely have a new follower :) feel free to follow mine as well. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thank you! I appreciate the encouragement!


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