A Generous Grace

ideas on practical spirituality and loving each other

“It’s Around Here Somewhere”: On Looking for Joy–and Fighting to See

fight to see joy

Blogging about your personal life can be a little weird.

See, I’m hovering around the six-month mark of our move back to the U.S. from Africa. And when I’m truthful, this last month in particular has been a low point I haven’t hit in a long time. I wonder sometimes about what’s appropriate to share. I believe it’s Brene Brown who says she thinks it’s okay to be vulnerable on a larger scale if first she’s been vulnerable with those close to her. Yet there was also a point  last year where I was like, All of this cyber-honesty is making my blog a real downer. All I need is a few posts about puppy mills and cancer and we’ll be all set!

But a common thread through all of these ideas on practical spirituality and relationships is, yes, the story God’s writing around me. Hence the classification “blog”. So I thought I’d let you peek in on my curious occupation this past week.

One of my work tasks has actually been to interview via phone a series of widows and widowers–a collage of races and seasons of life. Essentially, I was talking with each for an hour about some of the darkest days of their lives.

My heart, of course, has broken for them. From every one, I have absorbed their vivid recounting of the last minutes with the love of their life, and the black days after. Before I even began the interviews, I prayed God would keep my heart from fear of losing my own husband and best friend.

But ironically, a theme has bubbled to the surface. Before each interview, I’ve prayed with the interviewee the words of Moses: Show us Your glory. Show us how you’ve walked with this person the whole way.

Learning to “See”

Last week, thumbing through my Bible, I saw a quote I’d scrawled in the margins from John Piper.

fight for joy see

In the event you can’t read my unreadable shorthand, here’s the actual quote (from this book):

Even this prayer for these widows from my own mouth has exposed my need for new eyes that see, new ears that hear. If the “eye is the lamp of the body” and “if your eye is healthy your whole body will be full of light,” perhaps that’s why our gratitude is so tied to our happiness in God. It’s a fight to see Him working and creating and loving tenderly all around us. (Honestly, some of these widows I interviewed were much more adept at this than I was. Learning to see God is a learned skill.)

Jesus talked to people about this when he was walking the planet:

For this people’s heart has grown callous; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn, and I would heal them. But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 
Matthew 13:15-16
So my current battle is a fight to simply…see.
I’m reminded of an early morning walk I once took in Kampala, my Canon thumping at my side. I was so excited to at last glimpse, through a chain link fence, a gray heron in a meadow. It had been elusive–and I finally had my camera! I pressed my lens through the metal and snapped the photo I’d been waiting for. Well, somewhat anyway. When I got home, I glanced again at the photo. How had I not seen that tire-turned-volleyball standard nearby? Doesn’t any photographer worth her salt check her background? But the beauty had captivated me. The heron had turned my eyes from everything ugly nearby. I’d only seen what my lens had zoomed in upon.
So I’m praying this right now: Don’t let me obstinately elect for blindness, like Murphy’s Law is conspiring around me. Help me see the tilting stacks of gifts piling up right and left from You. I know You’re ultimately so much more of a Giver than a taker. Show me the beauty–You–in the mess and blood and tears.
Help me see.
I do not cease…remembering you in my prayers, that…the Father of glory
may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him,
having the eyes of your hearts enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you,
what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe…
Ephesians 1:16-19
Like this post? You might like
If you like it, please share it! (And consider subscribing up there in the right hand corner.)


  1. I can definitely relate to this, Janel and appreciated your insight in how you are needing focus in order to not be dragged down emotionally. I have been struggling with my emotions the last couple of months too. I felt like the Lord gave me the word “Joy” for this year, but I seem to have so little of it. I am trying to dig deeper in the word & delight in the little gifts he gives me throughout my day. I appreciate you!

    • Stephanie, thanks so much for your vulnerability. This fight for joy is so hard. Love that you, too, are really seeking delight in even the smallest of gifts. May He continue to give both of us the gift of new eyes! Thanks for your encouragement today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


© 2018 A Generous Grace

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑