My sweet neighbor left bags of oranges on my front doorstep. I sighed. Because if I don’t squeeze them, they’ll be rotten in a week. More work. Another tedious task to add to my list.
Making beds. Folding laundry. Emptying the dishwasher. Dusting. Mopping. Cooking dinner. Giving baths. Checking homework. Buying groceries. Carpooling. Bill paying. Coupon cutting. Picking up toys again and again. And again.
I feel buried beneath.
Suffocating from the mundane. The ordinary. The tedious.
It’s a new year. I fight to breathe, gasping for air from shallow lungs.
My struggle—To find the white-bright sun peaking through the gray of our days this January. I search desperately for the bright but miss its warmth. I miss it because I have forgotten where to look.
The bright is the hidden joy.
Joy-filled light is found within the mundane when gratitude dwells deep in my soul. Because when looking for places to thank, I unveil the hidden places of joy. This gratefulness that brings forth joy.
Grateful I have tiny clothes to fold and children who are alive to wear them. Mopping my floors means life exists in my home—a good life. Fingerprints run along table tops to remind me I have little hands to hold. My bed keeps me warm in the dark when I have students sleeping in cars. Dirty dishes tell me I have food to feed my family. Checking homework says I have a daughter mentally able to attend school.
I am learning. Gratefulness brings forth joy. God-given, God-bestowed joy. Because His joy fills us to the brim and overflows into our lives.
If I am to find the joy, I must look for the thankful. The I-don’t-deserve-this-beautiful-life gratefulness existing in the mundane.
The white-bright joy peaks into my dreary chore of squeezing oranges, fresh from my neighbor’s tree. I begin to thank—I live in a place where oranges grow on trees. I have a neighbor who shares the fruit of her labor. This thankful recognition breaks through the gray.
Joy breaks forth because gratitude is expressed.
Fresh squeezed oranges using a juicer Grandmother gave me. My hands placed upon the same mechanisms she once held. Then my husband’s hands on our son’s. Pressing down. Teaching. I have a heritage. My grandmother—a legacy. More joy.
I was just squeezing oranges. Messy. Time-consuming. Mundane.
Yet, joy was there waiting. It wanted to be found—found in the thanking. The hand of my Creator lavishing me with a million moments of joy. Waiting for me to look for His soft white light existing within the tedious. Waiting for me to thank.
Do I now mystically, magically enjoy juicing oranges? No. Chores will continue to be mundane. But joy is in the mundane. When I am looking, I find it—the white-bright Son breaking through my gray.
And then I can breathe.
Heather Iseminger, her husband Michael, and their two children live in Florida. Heather teaches high school language and composition. You can read more from Heather at her blog, PetalsofJoy.org.