Thieves of Joy

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him…  Romans 15:13


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It’s hard for Jocelyn: being the younger sister to two brothers who have a mind-meld going on. The poor girl can’t get a word in edge-wise. They never seem to listen to her.

In my house, the dinner table is supposed to be where everyone gets heard. In fact, we’re all required to listen well so we can prepare and ask curiosity questions when the speaker is done. However, the other night, when Jocelyn was super excited to share something, the boys ignored our rule, and her. She lost it.

She broke into tears and cried, “They never listen to me!” She was absolutely right. But she had some responsibility in her extreme reaction.

After calming her down, I explained why her response was inappropriate, and where she was at fault in the situation. Yes, the boys ignored her. But she gave them the permission and power to steal her joy. She allowed their attention and opinion to matter too much. When they didn’t extend either, she placed her joy in their hands and let them run away with it.

My eight-year-old isn’t the only one who falls into this trap. Most of us do, even us adults. The more something matters to us, the more we want others’ attention and approval of it.

If we plant ourselves in the opinion of others, their approval makes us think we’re digging in and flourishing. But the soil of public opinion is shallow and surface thin. When the winds of disapproval blow, we’re knocked flat with nothing to hold onto. Ultimately, we’re left feeling exposed, angry, and deeply hurt, just like Jocelyn.

The goal is to be rooted in God, and grow ourselves deeper into His grace. He’s the rich soil and Source of all we have and achieve. He’s the only treasure trove of true and lasting joy.

Questions for Reflection:

     * What is my source of joy?

     * Do I allow others to rob me of it?

4 thoughts on “Thieves of Joy

  1. How blessed Jocelyn is to have an enlightened, aware and loving mom as you, who could both comfort her over her brothers’ non listening attitude, at a moment of sharing that was so important to her, and then to show her, even at 8 years old, how to protect her precious spirit of joy from non listening “thieves,” all the more painful when these “thieves” are her big brothers!! Once again, you’ve touched a poignant, challenging experience we’ve all lived, I am sure, the experience of not being heard, and you’ve reminded not just Jocelyn, but each of us, how to genuinely listen to others in conversation, especially family members, and how to protect ourselves from sibling “robbers” who at times, not meaning to do so, sadden us, by brushing off or by not fully listening to something we want to share that’s deeply important to us. Like Jocelyn, we must become aware that we each hold the key to locking in that gift of joy residing so deeply within our spirit. I am certain that with your loving encouragement, your enthusiastic daughter will gradually learn how to keep her joy safe from all “non listening thieves” she’s sure, like the rest of us humans, to encounter again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love your comment that “we each hold the key to lock in that gift of joy!” So perfectly said, Jackie, as usual! Thanks for adding your perspective. It always blesses me!


  2. Wish I had such a post when I grew up with a similar dynamic. I understand Jocelyn’s feelings however I love the responsibility factor. An amazing lesson to ground ourselves in Gods love to protect ourselves from “joy thieves”. However I believe it’s a good thing to share those feelings (in a conversation) with the thieves, majority of the time they are unaware they’ve stolen anything.


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