“Because I realized that I felt joyful and I was alone, and I couldn’t remember the last time that had happened.”
I was beginning to understand how choosing to be joyful in affliction becomes sustenance. How when there is nothing left to give and more than just your heart is broken, when you DO fear the terror of night and the arrow that flies by day, and when it really just isn’t going to be okay, somehow He holds us that we may stand, though our back stoops painfully forward and our knees shake, unsteady. I prayed for joy in pain and joy in rejection and joy that would consume and renew and that joy would knit these shattered pieces of our hope together. And Jesus, in his goodness, he saw fit to begin these lessons; to teach me about what it means to say it is well with my soul, though the storms rage and fire burns.
It’s much easier to have joy when that letter comes in the mail and it says congratulations and we’ll see you soon and suddenly, the future is not so blurred anymore. It’s much easier to have joy when He says “Yes, child. Yes.” It’s much easier to have joy when that picture reaches my phone and it’s a smiling face that doesn’t carry the weight of uncertainty within it anymore. When he says, “I have joy,” my heart stops and just kind of shudders-like, because I.just.can’t.believe.it. In thanksgiving. Because in affliction, I fought for joy, for both of us, and in affliction, we held on. Thank God, we held on. Is it possible that joyful in affliction sometimes means hanging on with that tiny finger to a bar that just keeps slipping further away? I thought joy meant I would cherish the crisis while in the midst of it but the truth is, the crisis hurts like hell and when you can’t see the ending, maybe joy in affliction means you just keep on breathing. You wait for the promise. Somehow, we went running headlong into His arms.
The reward is so sweet. It feels like a thousand prayers answered, the kind that make your heart hurt because they are just so powerful – so lovely.
He did it. My Jesse did it and I know this means more to him than it could possibly mean to me. I know that. I am thankful for that because there are times when a body just needs to catch a break and be set free by a triumphant ending to a long and arduous journey. Joy in affliction, when God says no – perhaps it is profound and marked with its own blessed dynamics. Joy when He holds His hands open to you, the desire of your heart on a silver platter? You can’t beat that kind of joy. You can’t touch thankfulness like that. Especially when the fight has changed you.
If you’re not up to speed on the whole, Jesse-portfolio-designprogram-nightmare-saga, allow me to catch you up. HE GOT IN! Thank God. We originally thought that after portfolios were sent in, the panel narrowed it down to 100 or so applicants. Jesse discovered that number was probably closer to 60, making his invitation to the interview day quite a bit more significant. After said interview, a drawing test, a creative test, and a writing test, he simply had to wait. Of course, the letter had to be late, but on a Monday at exactly 4:13, that envelope was ripped open and we both cried, awestruck and relieved.
So. For the next four years, I’ve got me a student for a boyfriend. Just in time for my graduation this year, too. I have faith in this timing. Faith in the idea that a small idea can catapult to a hope that shines so bright even the most cynical of souls might sit up and take notice.
I am so proud. I wish he was a show off like me so that everyone could see how beautiful and different his portfolio was. I wish he would let me post each and every piece on every single social media outlet I put my name to, so that you could understand how much work and dedication has gone into this victory. It’s true that some things do bleed you dry. It’s true that it can be so very difficult to see God in the muck and the mire. You cling and wait and the stillness drives you crazy and God makes you so angry and if only He would just answer. Why doesn’t He ever answer? I didn’t have an answer for him.
I wish I could describe how a silly little letter can renew a person who has long been without passion and purpose.
“I have joy,” he said. “Did you know that?”
I can see it. It’s painted in the sky, he’s illuminated, and I can see the Father God nodding His head, beaming, telling him that this, this, is what coming home feels like.