Editor’s Note: Becky Kreidler reflects on the little joys of life that have revealed God’s presence.
I’ll be the first to admit my heart often wanders. Even though I’ve felt God’s steadiness in my life, in my imperfectness, I can stray from His path. In this past season, I’ve been leaning on myself more than Him, stubbornly thinking that I am in control (Spoiler alert: I’m not). In my story it is often in moments of stress, grieving, sorrow that I stray back to Him, as I depend on His grace and guidance. Yet, in this past season, God has reminded me that deep, quiet joy is also a path that leads me home.
I woke up one morning in December to find my mom looking at our living room with a deep smile on her face. “Becky, look at the Christmas cactus! I’ve never seem it bloom likethis!” It was in this small and seemingly insignificant moment that God caught my attention. My mom’s awe and wonder at a modest plant was deeper than happiness, deeper than anything she or I could control. It was a noticing in my mom that brought out a peaceful gladness, a rejoicing of growth, and awe of a God that can create simple beauty in our living room.
In my own faith experience, I have come to understand joy as a gift deeper than the feeling of happiness, one that results not from my own actions or circumstances, but rather “noticings” placed in my heart by God. And, as was true in observing my mom’s awe, it is also a precious gift to experience the deep joy of God alive in another.
I’ve heard joy described as Jesus Others Yourself. Yet, when I believe I am in control, I get it totally backwards. And as I chase happiness and ignore God’s presence in the small and the quiet, He slowly guides me back, reminding me that my identity is not composed of circumstantial feelings, but of something deeper of which He is the root. In one of his recent podcasts, Fr. Mike Schmidt captures this perfectly when he said, “We long for happiness, but we are made for joy.”
As children of God, we are made to give him praise, to live out freely given grace, to receive His gifts of joy. And thus, these moments where God catches our attention are not accidental, but purposeful, because they are different for each us and lead us all to Him. In recognizing and sharing in the joy of my mom, God nudged me closer to Him and the joy he plants everywhere.
God caught my attention during this same season in a familiar place: in His Home. During daily mass, my grandpa and I would sit by the stained glass windows on the far lefthand side of St. Raymond’s, my home parish in Mt. Prospect, Illinois. While I’ve seen these stained glass windows each time I’ve been in church, they’ve only ever been a landmark, a decoration. Yet, in this season, God used them as a channel of joy for me.
Each morning for about 15 or 20 minutes of mass, the sun would align perfectly and the stained glass windows would reflect onto the wooden beams inside our church. I couldn’t help but be totally consumed by the images the sun would create and the sense of peace, wonder, and warmth that would define my time in church. In the seemingly ordinary, God navigated my attention to the stained glass in order to remind me that, in the same way, these windows were made for His glory and He uses them as channels to speak to me. Likewise, I am to be an instrument of His peace in my life. I am His. I am made for Joy.
In blooming, in colorful reflections, in the observation of family hugs in a crowded holiday airport, God is giving us gifts, nudging our hearts, all to lead us home to Him.
So I leave you today with an excerpt from a poem by Ted Loder, written from the perspective of Saint Joseph, that has become an ongoing meditation for me around the gift that joy truly is.
I did not expect this joy.
It is a gift.
It does not come on cue.
It’s a surprise.
Who deserves it? None.
Who is it for? All.
Reflection Question: When was a time when you recognized God’s presence through the details of daily life?