Joy kicks from within

Published 1:45 pm Saturday, December 15, 2018

by Nathan Decker

“There is no better feeling than the movement of life within you.”
– Anonymous

I remember it well. My wife was pregnant. We were walking down the aisle of a store. She suddenly grabbed my hand and placed it on her lower belly. And I felt it. A kick. A kick signified my son was active. A kick brought joy to my heart. WebMD states pregnant women describe a baby’s movements as butterflies, nervous twitches or a tumbling motion. My wife described it as my son using her kidney as a punching bag, her liver as a soccer ball, and her stomach as a pillow.

A baby kicking from within gives joy that can’t be bought, sold, or understood by any other lens than love. We have a constant struggle to be happy. We find ourselves relating more to Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch than we do Bob Cratchit or Cindy Lou. It is so easy to get caught up in consuming and the commercial rush. When your credit card magnet is just as worn out as the UPS driver’s back when he delivers your orders — you know you’re unhappy.

Joy does not come from outside. Things will not make us happy. Having more authority or power will not give us peace. There is not someone who will show up like Prince Charming and fulfill us. Joy does not come from outside. Joy kicks from within.

Maybe the problem is that we in the U.S. are too spoiled to experience joy. We don’t need anything.  And that changes how we hear the Christmas story. We tend to sanitize Christmas and not allow the messy nature of the coming of our Lord speak to us.

I’m guessing that a majority of us were excited to find out a baby was on the way… not so much for those in poverty. When every kick of the baby reminds you that you will soon have another mouth to feed, there is less joy. When you’re scared and alone because the baby’s father isn’t sure whether or not he’s going to be involved, there is minimal joy. When everyone around you accuses you of having a baby just so you can get WIC, SNAP and more welfare, it is so hard to have joy. When you look around at where you live, the neighborhood, the problems, the oppression, the hopelessness — and this is the world into which the baby is being born?

I’m guessing that a majority of us were excited to find out that a baby was on the way… not so much for Mary. She’s 13. She’s not married. Her fiancé isn’t sure if what he’s going to do. Her mom and dad will disown her. She’s going to get kicked out of her home. She lives in a culture that will now forever look at her as unvirtuous promiscuous, or worse, they might stone her. And she’s scared because she looks around at the world she lives in ± filled with hate, Roman occupation, persecution, oppression, hopelessness. And still she finds the courage to say, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it happen as you have said.”

Joy does not come from outside of us. Joy kicks within us. If we want to be happy, we must conceive Christ within our hearts. If we want to experience joy, we must nurture joy within the womb of our love. We are blessed. We are blessed to be a blessing. True joy can’t be bought or sold or understood through any other lens than love. This Christmas, experience joy by being blessed to be a blessing.  After all, it’s what Jesus would want on his birthday.

“The moment the sound of your greeting entered my ears,
The babe in my womb skipped like a lamb for sheer joy.”
– Elizabeth to Mary in Luke 1:44

NATHAN DECKER is the pastor of High Street United Methodist Church. Contact him at 562-3367.