Contrary to popular belief, I tend to have a rather fragile JOY. I know I have a loud laugh that’s like a homing beacon for Randy. He can hear me before he sees me in a crowd. Only now with just one working ear, he can’t find where the sound is coming from!
Proverbs 14:13 says,
“Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief.”
This fragile JOY might be why I knew I needed to ask for His Joy to make it through. My heart aches often and dreads any coming grief. I already lived 10 years of slow degeneration from the muscular dystrophy. I already knew I could spiral down to Sorrow Town. It’s a dark and lonely place where sad thoughts run rampant, needing a good spanking to skedaddle their way out.
This fragile JOY easily pops like a bubble. Since the crisis is over, it seems I have some extra sensative emotions. I try to find my happy place: practicing gratitude, showing up in my quiet time chair, saying “Oh well” when things don’t go just right, taking a deep breath, staying in the moment, or squeezing my kids. They are very grounding to me.
Even with all my trying, if Randy looks at me wrong… or doesn’t look at me right… at the right time… in just the right way, when I need it most. I POP. His face is still paralyzed so if I’m on the wrong side, I miss it. To Randy, the crooked smile feels like a snarl so he says, “I’m just not gonna laugh or smile until it comes back.” I not only POP when he says this… I shrivel inside like a salted slug! Noooooo! Please noooo!
This fragile JOY is trying to put her big girl panties on and get back into the swing of life. It’s like trying to join a game of jump rope… only it’s Orange County-Double Dutch-Homeschool style. You know how you watch kids and they put their arms up to get the rhythm of the ropes and then they jump in and dance like they are having so much fun? I wanna do that…
But, I already know I can’t. I tried to find videos of double dutch fails…people getting slapped over and over as the ropes keep mercilessly turning around and around, beating them in the face. They were too cruel to watch. Can you just imagine?! It happens when I realize I forgot to cancel a doctor appointment and am double booked. It happens when I wait until the the dark of night to fill Ian’s pill box and realize we’re out and am frantically calling the UCLA nurse on call, wishing Tennessee was in Hawaii’s time zone so I can ask for a next day shipment, and begging a 24 hour CVS for a spot dose!
Double Dutch fails happen when we show up to ballet without ballet shoes. It happens when I need a good talking to from the school administrator and the records keeper for paperwork that is way overdue. It happens when I over estimate the size and fortitude of my bladder after the 2.5 hour drive to UCLA and a couple cups of coffee. Defeatedly I say, “Please stop.” (I’m sorry if you can’t understand that last one. Go ask your mom.) The beating continues. Of course, everyone is still gracious with me. But the feelings of failure sting like a jump rope slap on my flushed cheek.
SO that’s why God keeps giving me JOY FOR THE JOURNEY. He knows I need it. I’ve been hanging out the past several weeks with this young couple after worship service at Crossroads. It’s been life giving!!
A few weeks ago I got to help the husband, Jim Nakama, stand up into his walker. He slowly straightened up to his full, 4 foot frame, maybe 4’7″ or 9″ max! They insist he’s 5 feet… but I’m only 5’2″ and I could easily kiss the top of his head. I digress. I knew he was going to say something because he had closed his eyes, opened his mouth, and lifted his face towards mine. So I waited with a smile. He said in his “Oogway” sort of way, (Oogway is the ancient and wise tortoise from the movie Kung Fu Panda.)
“Thank you. (long pause)
I’ll help you…. (long pause)
When you get old!”
Ba ha ha! I asked him if I could post him on my face book. He smiled and said, “Make sure you use my full name.”
God must love me so much to give me days with Oogway, Jim Nakama!!
The JOY I got from that one moment lasted all week, and came back every time I remembered him. You see, he had shared so much more than just one witty line that day. Infact, I never knew he could talk until then! Aunty Liz did all the talking before this. In his slow OOGWAY sort of way he vividly described growing up on the family hog farm in Honolulu.
“I worked from sun up…… to sun down!….. Day after day…… after day!” A tiny boy lifting 50 pound buckets of slop to feed the pigs, throwing 300 pound hogs onto the truck! Driving at age 9! I asked how he reached the pedals! I asked how he saw over the steering wheel! I asked for more stories and he snarled his face and looked away with a big sigh, “I hated it!…. I don’t even want to think about it.” There was a longer pause and I was afraid I had pressed too hard. Then he groaned, “It was soooooo tiring!” So, I asked if they ever hired anyone to help. “Yes….. a couple because a 9 year old can’t drive the highway.”
Ba Ha ha haha!! I love it! Can’t drive the highway!
I kept asking questions about him so we left the farm and went to war! When he was drafted for the Korean War, they put him on the fast track because he was already so fit, and the top of his class academically. Hog farming is good for body and mind!
His eyes sparkled when his wife, Aunty Liz, told me about his trophy. Farm life was hard, relentless work that made him strong, so strong that he became a trophy winning body builder! Little Mr. Nakama, Atlas himself!
I think Mr. Atlas-Nakama gave me so much JOY because he’s been through so much. He’s been at the top of his game: so strong he has a shiny trophy to prove it, the World’s Most Perfect Man, fast tracked through basic training, well educated and able to leave the laborious farm life behind, raised two beautiful and loyal children, and now…
See what life has done to him? He’s Oogway. He’s been through war. He’s grown weak. He’s had some falls. He moved to an assisted living home. He talks slowly. He eats slowly. He moves slowly. He doesn’t even bother to say “Please stop” when his bladder gets the best of him. He couldn’t double dutch if he tried. AND HE’S SO FULL OF JOY! He made me laugh over and over. He never once said, “Chin Up, Jill. It’s gonna be all right.” I just know it will be because his outer man has decayed and his inner man is so shiny and new. It brightened my whole week!
Have you hung out with your old people? We have a date on the couches after church. You’re welcome to join us for a little pick-me-up! The proof is in the pudding! There’s Joy to be had, ladies and gentlemen!
Don’t miss out on your old people today,
Please excuse the typos from Little Miss Spelled.
Don’t get me wrong… these kinds of things still bring me JOY too…