Beautiful Joy: for you


Today's post is the gift of Hallie Lord, also known as the beloved Betty Beguiles, and author of the soon-to-be-released Style, Sex, and Substance. I'm so pleased to have Hallie grace this space and I'm glad you'll get to consider what she's got to say this morning. As Disney Magic would have it, today's my birthday. After I have lunch with princesses (four of whom share a home with me), I think I'll find a little something pretty in Downtown Disney...
Over the past couple of years I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting upon and writing about the importance of self-care. Far too often I see good, faithful women neglecting themselves for fear of vanity or self-indulgence--a fear that is understandable given the state of our culture. It seemed to me that what had been lost was an appreciation for the value of putting our best foot forward for the sake of effective Christian witness, for nurturing the sexual-love aspect of our marriages, and for showing our children how much we value our vocation.
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For a long time something nagged at me, though. It’s not that I disagreed with what I was advocating for, but a quiet voice suggested that maybe I’d missed something. Maybe the list was not complete.

And, indeed, I had. And it wasn’t.

I’d considered husbands and children and the world at large but I’d forgotten about you. And I’d forgotten about me.

Somewhere amid my list of reasons to polish, primp, and pamper should have been an encouragement to do these things simply for pleasure’s sake.

I don’t mind admitting that I’m a girlie girl through and through. During the more chaotic phases of life, though, even I start to view self-care (of the physical variety) as just one more item to cross of the to-do list as quickly as possible. Gone is the pleasure I usually find in painting my nails, doing my hair, and picking out the perfect shade of lipstick. Who has the time or energy for such indulgences?

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I was reminded of just how much joy there is to be found in these things as I watched my three sweet small girls celebrate Christmas. I was struck by the glee with which they sought out their most beautiful dresses for Mass on Christmas Eve, the quiet delight they found in brushing one another’s hair with the new hairbrushes that they found tucked into their stockings, and the long hot bubble baths they insisted upon on Christmas afternoon.

My daughters aren’t yet old enough to recognize that there might be value in doing any of these things for the benefit of others; they do them simply because they realize that which is easy for us busy Moms to forget: God created them (and us) for joy and the enjoyment of simple pleasures is their (and our) right.

Pain and suffering are our constant companions in this fallen world. They are companions that are rich in value and should never be considered worthless. But so, too, is joy. I forget that sometimes amid the seemingly endless responsibilities that come with young motherhood.
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As I watched my girls innocently savor their loveliness and delight in their baubles and baths, I was reminded once again that I must “change and become like the little children.” In spite of all suffering--and sometimes because of all suffering--there is joy. It comes in a million varieties and will manifest itself differently for everyone but, always, there is joy. We need only accept it.

If never occurs to young children that they should reject simple pleasures in favor of toil. Though hard work and discipline have their place, we adults can learn something from the young who never agonize over whether it’s prudent for them to rest and play. They play because God calls them to play. It’s as simple and as perfect as that.

It was an innocent mistake, but as I watched my daughter’s frolic on Christmas Day it dawned on me that my recent lack of appreciation for these simple pleasures was ultimately a rejection of God’s love for me. The only reason I have ever found any joy whatsoever in the things I do with is because He desired that I should and offered them to me as a gift of love. With the new year dawning, I am resolving to surrender more fully. When God calls me to work, I will work. And when he calls me to play, I will play--without any of the guilt or distraction that has inhibited me in the past from fully savoring His many gifts.



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