Wrightsville Beach, NC
"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." -Psalm 16:11
One of my friends from work recently asked me, "so what's the deal with small joys? Are there big joys?" Small joys are something I started looking for almost a decade ago when I first graduated from nursing school. One of my preceptors was talking about her favorite scrubs (Grey's Anatomy, obviously) as we were walking down the hallway, and she was talking about how much she loved buying a new pair of them. When she was done talking about them, she said "Yep. Small joys." I wonder if she would even remember the conversation today. I certainly do, and her comment about buying new scrubs as a small joy stuck with me. I was in a season where I was anxious all the time. I was a new nurse and was so terrified every shift that I wouldn't pick up on something that was monumental for saving my patient. The night before my first shift on my own as a new nurse, I couldn't sleep at all and actually had CHEST PAIN! At 22 years old. I was freaking out and ended up going to the emergency room after texting my roommate (everything was fine-- it was determined to be anxiety vs. indigestion, as is most chest pain for a healthy 20-something); all this to say, the anxiety was real and I needed something to help me get through each shift.
I prayed a lot before I went into work and asked God to bless my hands as I worked with patients, and I prayed for the safety of the patients in my care. I'd sit in my car in the parking garage with my faded pink Bible and read psalms over and over again before going in. But throughout my shift, I used this small joys notion to seek joy in the midst of the very ordinary (or, to me, the very scary). Small joys were the little things that you might ordinarily miss if you weren't looking for them, the little reminders that God was ever present. Sometimes it was just a hot cup of coffee at 3AM when my shift was SO CLOSE but so far from being over. Sometimes it was a kind word from a patient or their family that encouraged me and got me through another crazy day. At times, it was just an easy patient load. One day, it really was just my comfortable scrubs. It was catching the bus on time and getting home earlier than I normally did. A day when all my charting was done by the end of my shift and I didn't have to stay over. Sometimes it was a sunrise on my way into work, or a sunset when I was leaving. Some days I made a little list of the joys for that day that I carried around in my pocket-- something I could reflect on later when I got home and changed into my PJs.
These days, I am in another season where I am seeking joy. This morning, it was waking up to coffee already brewed in my coffeemaker that I programmed last night to brew at 5AM. It was lighting a mulled cider candle to burn while I did my quiet time with the Lord. It's the plant sitting next to my computer as I write to make me feel more grounded and connected to nature, even in the midst of my kitchen. To answer my friend's question-- I don't really look for big joys. Those are really obvious to most people and they're the things that smack you in the face and, sometimes, change your life. Small joys are the little blessings in each day that you would miss if you weren't looking for them. A big joy would be the birth of my niece recently; the small joy would be getting to hold her and snuggle her, rocking her to sleep, and squeezing her chunky baby thighs. Those are the little things I look for, the little things I love finding God's promises in.
Another translation (NIV) of the verse from Psalms that I wrote above says, "You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence; with eternal pleasures at your right hand." I wouldn't dare to say that my cup of coffee on night shift at 3AM is an eternal pleasure, but these things are reminders to me of a loving God who has promised eternal pleasures to those who seek Him and call Him Lord.
I am praying and hoping that you find these moments of joy in your day, that they help you remember that there is a God who loves and cares for the details of your life. And that in those moments, you would seek Him and be grateful for those tiny moments of joy in the midst of the very ordinary.