It's common that I've overcome by a "I can't believe this is my life" moment. The kind of suck-your-breath-in, stomach-dropping, tingling-to-your-toes, slightly-dizzying moment that usually brings a little sparkle of tears and deep sense of joy.
My friend Jen told me the other day that she had looked up both "joy" and "happiness" in the dictionary and found that one of the definitions of joy is "a source or cause of delight." For some reason, the word source always evokes for me an image of a water spring. Growing up around fields and space, I'm familiar with sweeping my eyes over a field and seeing almost immediately where there is a water spring. If in the midst of an otherwise flat and empty field you see a small collection of rocks and trees together, you can almost guarantee that there is a natural spring beneath it. These little sources of life have always amazed me because I can't believe that they just keep flowing from the depths and never seem to run dry. Sure, there's ebb and flow, but it seems that no matter what, the water just keeps flowing. It evokes hope and excitement for things to come.
Just like joy. And just like my sweet baby girl.
Sometimes these moments catch me off guard, like tonight when I stepped forward from the kitchen and saw our little wonder pushing her walker and saying, "Walk! Walk!" while looking up at me with a huge grin. I stood stunned with happiness momentarily while I thought, "We have a child. Our child. Our house has the pitter-patter of little feet. We are whole and well and it is good. It is so, so good."
Well, okay, my mind didn't exactly articulate that instantly, but it's how my heart felt. I saw fleeting flashes of our lives pre-baby and felt the lack that used to be there, the lack I didn't even know was there before.
I often lift our baby out of her crib when we go up to bed just to hold her and cuddle her and breathe her in for a little while before putting her back and going to bed. I carry her to our bed and nestle her between us and we stroke her little cheek and pet her hair and have passive aggressive battles over whose arm gets wrapped around her. Those are sweet and precious moments for me, almost as precious as the way she nuzzles her cheek to my shoulder and wraps her fingers in my hair every night while I sing her bedtime lullabies and pray over her. I love watching her drift off to sleep, but I also love watching her while she sleeps, taking in that soft and dreamy face with the purple lids and puckered lips.
There has been a lot (I repeat: a lot) in the recent season of our lives in the past 18 months or so that has been very stressful, hard, and painful. I confess that I have not always been happy with some of our circumstances, but I have never in my life known a more joyful season. My faith is deeper, my love is stronger, and my wellspring overflows. I am learning a lot about true joy and what it means to have true joy in the midst of difficulty. I'm thankful for my daughter's role in helping to teach me.