I was browsing in a second hand shop a few months ago when I came across a throw pillow with a butterfly on it that I really liked. I picked it up to check the price and was thrilled to find the tag read $5. Five dollars? What a deal! I immediately began to wonder, ”Who would like this? Whom could I give it to?” The thought that I could buy the pillow for myself to enjoy was nowhere in my mind.
It had been a rough month and I wasn’t happy with how I was living in the midst of it. Because of both things, I had temporarily and dangerously forgotten that even in the middle of hardship — joy is my birthright. Joy. Never mind a pillow!
You can’t have joy if what you honestly feel in your gut (regardless of the reason) is that you are not worthy of anything good. Knowing intimately our sin and failings can make us feel unworthy of love. Living under the effects of other people’s sins against us and failings of us, weighs our hearts down. We can be not only hard pressed, we can believe that being under that weight is what we deserve. We can have days or seasons and sadly sometimes years, where we are so pressed down, we walk as closely to the earth as an inchworm. A centipede. A slug. Those are not happy creatures.
Happy creatures are not pinned to the dirt. They are more like the butterfly on the pillow. Butterflies epitomize joy. They are light hearted or at least they appear to be. Free. Unencumbered. They don’t even fly in a straight line; they flutter this way, then that. Whimsy with wings. There is no self judgment, no judgment at all pinning their wings to the ground.
Try to imagine a butterfly berating itself for failing to visit enough flowers in a day. For not zig zagging well enough. For not accomplishing its preordained goals. It can’t be done.
If you were to be able to converse with a butterfly — and I did the other day when one landed on my hand — it’s voice would be soft and at ease. It would be kind.
Watch the Video: Defiant Joy
Remember Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”? Scrooge wasn’t kind. He was driven, a “hard pressed, nose to the grindstone” man. The story of his fictional life was one filled with neglect; his parents had deemed him unworthy of love and personal connection. He learned the lesson well and it when it came his time to receive and give it — the gift of love flowing naturally between himself and the woman who captured his heart — he too easily let it go in favor of a more safe and measured life. In “A Christmas Carol”, Scrooge came to know joy, and just in time, and it made him light on his feet, “skipping around like a school boy.”
There’s that light hearted thing again.
Light hearted. It means free from care and anxiety; cheerfully optimistic and hopeful.
It does not mean being foolish. It does not mean having your head so high in the clouds that you have no earthly grasp on reality. It does not mean that your every thought and word is as insubstantial as fluff; cotton candy offerings that disappear as quickly as they are received. No.
It means your soul is not weighed down by the legitimate cares that surround us all. It means the weight of the world is not carried by you but entrusted to the One who is able to carry it. It means you know true joy as a result.
Joy comes when we realize that our identity is not based on what others have said of us or done to us. It does not rest on the circumstances of our lives or how well we judge we are living them. It comes when we realize that our well-being is forever rooted in the unchangeable love of God. The anchor of our souls is not subject to the willy-nilly occurrences of our dailies. It is not subject to the authority of anyone in this world but is firmly established in the authority of Christ — what He has done, what He has won and what He speaks over our lives.
“You are Mine.” He says. (Isaiah 43:1)
Marinating our souls in the truth that we are forever established in the love of God will fill our hearts with a steady joy. And when you are rooted in joy, your soul has wings. You will be kind. Kind to others. Kind to yourself. It always begins there. Just as every journey, no matter how adventurous or how far, begins at HOME, so does kindness. So does love.
“Love your neighbor as yourself,” Jesus tells us in Mark 12:31. You can’t even go next door without putting on your self love first. It’s the undergarments of our heart. And when you wear love, kindness flows.
Love is kind. — 1 Corinthians 13:4
We are supposed to be kind to ourselves.
We are not called to berate ourselves for our failings. For not living well enough. For not accomplishing some preordained expectation of how we should be doing or how our life should be going. We are to be free from the weight of the world and the heaviness of our own sin — our hearts light now because of the forgiveness won for us through the blood of our Jesus.
We can be kind because our Father is kind and cares for us intimately and deeply. He wants us to be free, unencumbered and to know His joy.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. — Galatians 5:1
Free from sin. Free from hopelessness. Free from judgment — others and ours. Free from shame. Free from guilt.
Free to fly. Free to live. Free to love. Free to be kind.
Free to buy yourself a pillow just because you like it.
Hear more from Stasi about Defiant Joy
Written for Faith.Full by Stasi Eldredge, author of Defiant Joy.
Joy is our birthright. It really is! Lightheartedness is ours for the taking because God is in control and He loves us! Let’s give our worries and stresses to Him today. We want to hear from you about freedom in Jesus. Come share with us on our blog! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full