Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Quiet Joy: Inwardly Expressive

About the author: Cynthia is the mother of two little boys, an inquisitive preschooler and an energetic toddler. She blogs at The Hippie Housewife, where she shares her thoughts on attachment parenting, natural living, life as a Jesus-follower, and more, all tied together through her journey towards a more intentional life.

I remember being sad. I was so unbearably sad, and yet there were no tears. I berated myself for the lack of visible emotion; what was wrong with me? Everyone else at the funeral was crying.

I remember being happy. I was blissfully happy and felt at peace with the whole world. My blissful calm was shattered with a single comment from a random stranger: "Cheer up, love, it can't be that bad!"

I remember being excited. Oh, I was excited. I tried to show it, but it felt forced, fake. The bearer of good news noticed as well. "I thought you'd be excited about this."

Always the refrain: What is wrong with me? Why am so woefully inexpressive? I feel so deeply on the inside but it just doesn't show on the outside. A fault, a flaw, a personal shortcoming. How hard can it be to just show what I am feeling?

Fast-forward several years. Time has, as it so often does, brought both perspective and a sense of peace with the way God has created me. There is no need for me to force an outward expression of what I am feeling on the inside. I have discovered that the more I acknowledge this, the more free I am to feel fully, not concerned with convincing others of my feelings but simply embracing those feelings as they come. This is how I feel, and I need not prove it to anyone.

And then - greater discovery, greater joy! - those around me stopped questioning. The fullness of my inward emotions radiated outward, not in the usual expressive manner but in a quieter, gentler way. I am not crying but you can feel my sadness. I am not giddy but you can feel my peace. I am not squealing but you can feel my quiet joy.

This is how I will be observing my Advent. There will no loud fanfare, flashy holiday trappings, or crowded parties. Instead I will seek, as I do each year, to keep Advent focused, simple, and intentional. There will be joy - oh yes, great joy! - but it will my own God-graced brand of quiet joy.

I am, at long last, at peace with this. There is no shame in this quiet joy of mine, no reproof necessary. My joy is known by God and it brings Him pleasure and glory. I will never be the expressive one, wearing my emotions on my sleeve, but I have my own gifts to offer others: a soothing calm, and inward peace, and yes, a quiet joy.