Joyce

Joy is a choice you make and can share with anyone who’s willing to look up from their misery long enough to see it.

Every weekday I drive my kids to school. Blessed am I to have the honor to deliver and pick up my most precious cargo five days a week! If you know me, you know I spend lots of time in the car loop. I read there, jam out to music and even pluck my eyebrows in the line to pick up my kids. Side note - my husband hates it when I pluck in the car but the natural lighting is just so dang good!

Anyway, each day when I drive them I see these hi-viz yellow-vested people, also known as crossing guards, at each and every stop sign that a child might have to cross on their trip to school. I live in a little/big community so these crossing guards have been the same for at least the time I’ve lived here, only they move from stop to stop every now and then. Gotta keep things fresh.

I wave to each one every morning and afternoon. There is this one woman, older, who I wave at each day and she just fills me with such joy. Give her even the slightest nod and she waves at you with her entire body as if she was Miss America on the float! Her whole body is in on this wave. It’s as if she gets so much happiness by holding her hand up and then moving it back and forth rapidly. Makes my day each time. In fact, on some occasions when she’s not looking in my direction or not watching cars because she’s actually helping children cross the road, I feel sad that I didn’t get that full body wave from her. There is just so much joy behind her wave. It makes me feel oh so special!

Recently, my daughter got to experience snow. Her great aunt and uncle sent me a picture of her holding it in her hand and then smashing it on the ground after. The expression on her face is absolutely priceless. It’s this childlike joy that can only be attained by seeing something that truly brings you joy. Oh to look at anything like that would be amazing. Pretty sure the only thing that brings me that type of joy is seeing the clock say 7 a.m. on a Saturday, which translates into the latest I’ve slept-in in the last 13 years. It is just so remarkable to feel so lovingly toward something that so many have such disdain towards.

For someone living up North, snow is no big deal. In fact, it is a nuisance that sweeps in and alters your daily function during its seasonal showtime. But to a native 8th generation Floridian, snow is like buried treasure. Something you know you’ll never experience in your day-to-day living in the Sunshine State. Then, it’s treated not as a nuisance but a new, exciting, and very cold toy! I’m sure with age that snow, even to a southerner, becomes more and more of a hassle than a happy time. But man, the way she looked at that snowball was with nothing but love and joy.

My little crossing guard exudes this joy too. Let’s call her Joyce for the sake of names. She stands on a lonely corner all morning, waiting for a child to usher across the road. I know nothing of Joyce except that even though she doesn’t know me from Adam she inserts her entire being into something so trivial. A wave. A smile. Every time she sees me and waves I smile just like my daughter did looking at that snowball. And that ladies and gentlemen, is the hokie pokie of it all. That’s what it’s all about. Kindness. It matters. There are so many things in life that cost money or take our time and energy, but kindness is free. A smile or a wave costs you nothing but can give so much to someone that you don’t expect needs it.

We should all be so lucky to have a little joyful waver that greets us at the start and end of our day. If we can’t receive that joy from Joyce, maybe we should give it out for free. Compliment a stranger when you think their hair is cute. Help your neighbor. Go read to a senior in an assisted living facility.

Or just wave. Wave like Joyce waves. Put so much joy into that wave that people can’t help but light up when they see it. If you want to see the world change, start by being an example of that change you wish to see. This world can be downright ugly sometimes. Enough to make you not enjoy a mundane task like chauffeuring your children to and from school. But insert a friendly smile and kind wave and you never know, you might brighten up someone’s entire day.

The joy of the Lord is my strength. Nehemiah 8:10

Be safe. Be great. Be YOU!

Amen

Reality Changing Observations:

Q1. What are some ways you can show joy by being kind to your fellow human?

Q2. If smiles and joy are free, how might we figure out how to harness our joy to help a stranger or a loved one who is in need?

Q3. What moment in your life has brought you the kind of happiness that snowball brought to my kid?

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