My mother-in-law passed away last September at the age of 94. She was very special in my life – and not just because I love her son. However, my early relationship with her as a young bride of just 18 was tenuous at best. She was often correcting me on what my husband preferred in the way of food, how to fold his T-shirts…and even how I should “behave” as a godly wife. If I spoke up for myself, she would often break out in song! Weird, right? Especially if I tell you most of the songs were loud praise songs.
As years went by, I began pondering, “I wonder what her childhood was like?” “Did she experience rejection in her life?” “What might be the reason she feels the need to tell me what to do?” I started asking her questions about her life, and although she sometimes responded, “I only speak of things that are true, noble, right, pure and lovely” (quoting from Philippians 4:8), I slowly began learning about many painful parts of her life…the parts where she had been abused or rejected.
Then, several years later, after hearing her singing one of her favorite songs (“The Joy of the Lord is My Strength”) following a confrontation with my husband, I bravely asked her why she sang. She responded by telling me, “You can’t sing praises to the Lord and be upset or sad or angry!” A new appreciation for her developed. I knew she could have been one of the least happy and joyful people due to her life circumstances, but instead she exuded joy! She was not perhaps the most tactful or relational person I have ever met, but I learned from her. The next time I found myself grumbling, I hummed a song of praise. When I was feeling blue, I opened the hymnal on our piano and sang a song about God’s goodness. I discovered most of the time experiencing joy is about how I choose to think!
The mug I have added in photo here is one I use often for my morning coffee. The scripture – Romans 12:12 – done in calligraphy on the front, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” is one I like to start my day with. It’s a reminder to me, that to experience joy, I must choose to BE joyful! (And, singing praises really does help!) – Judi Brandow, Communication Specialist