“I’m sorry, I’m busy now.”
“Sorry this is late, I’ve only just managed to make time to see to this.”
“Sorry I don’t have the answer yet, I’ve been handling other matters recently.”
These are the most often repeated phrases in my conversations all week, for two, maybe three weeks now. Multiple projects. Anticipating down time because of mission trips. Assignments for school are backlogged. Letting people wait, letting people down. Letting things slip, forgetting some detail here and there. Schedule’s sardine-packed, and actually nothing’s new about that. If you know me personally, you know this isn’t new.
Except this time, something’s different. I have a constant joy.
Though… if you pass me at my desk, you might not have dared to strike up a chat because I know I look very focused and serious. I know my brows are furrowed. I’m staring at my computer like it’s a bug I’m about to squash. I’m plugged in with my earbuds so that I can drown out the distracting voices (and also it’s a helpful signal to others that I’m not available for conversation now). So it’s not a surprise that people have mistakenly (and quite annoyingly too -_-) commented on my being focused as being stressed out, when really I’m just in the flow of work.
Because when I’m in the flow, I’m seriously joyful, and joyfully serious.
Friends who ask me how I’m doing despite the mad packed overdrive; those who cared enough to lean in and say, “hey tell me how you’re really feeling, not just about the stuff going on that you’re dealing with,” would receive this reply from me, something to the effect of: “I’ve never before worked so continuously and intensely as I am now within the span of these weeks, yet every piece of debris the storm of this busyness flings keeps hitting something rock solid within me. In the frenzy, I’m not shaken. In the exertion, I am not crushed. In the exhaustion, I am not broken. Despite curve-balls and challenges, I am not giving up, and I am not without hope.”
Three months ago I would not have said that. I would have been a crying mess, curled up on the floor, my mind unable to silence sounds of fear, and shame, and despair. Unable to sleep, nervous and high strung. But I’ve come some way. The Lord has strengthened me so, and girded me in His word. He has taught me new and improved ways to guard my heart and put boundaries around the areas that I need to keep negative influences out.
Because He’s shown me that happiness is an emotion, but joy is a condition.
And I have joy enough to joke with the Lord that I’m going to claim a decade-long string of pajama parties all day errday, complete with the fluffiest pillows and comfiest bed. Somebody say it with me: sleep is also worship, amen and hallelujah.
When I got baptized 7 years ago, I had the opportunity to add a customary middle name in my baptism certificate. I sensed then that the Lord wanted me to add the word “joy,” so that my name became Samantha Joy Lim. But I had battled melancholy for so long and thought of myself as more often a sad or angry person rather than a joyful person, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. You have to live what your name says, after all, right? And I knew I couldn’t live up to it. Yet recently, God brought this idea that He put in my heart seven years ago to the forefront of my memory again. He challenged me to change my name wherever I publish it online. At first I hesitated, but then I finally took a leap of faith, and made the name change.
Because there is significance in a name, and He wants to mark me with His brand of joy.
And His joy shall be my strength, just as I have testified in today’s post. Work is sometimes hard, but God is always good.
Samantha Joy Lim