Joy that is unrefined, authentic. Of the heart, and to the heart. Joy which cannot be explained with mere words, and yet is so uncontainable that one must try. Joy that is more than happiness, more than excitement. The raw stuff. Breaks all barriers. Impacts.
My girlfriend, Kona Estes, gave me the best Christmas present I have ever received from any friend.
Allow me to preface:
When it comes to Christmas I'm a wee-bit materialistic. It's not that I don't enjoy the more "abstract" gifts the holidays bring (happiness, warm smiles, etc) I just happen to think I can enjoy those gifts more with a new iPod, laptop, book, video game, movie, ...ok you get the picture.
For my Christmas present to Kona I gave her an assortment of gift cards to various stores. I also hand picked a number of funny cards with which to hold said gift cards. Finally, I came up with a semi-elaborate scavenger hunt to various places that are special to Kona, or to her and I. At each stop she would get money in the form of a gift card, and a clue to the next area. It ended at my house for a yummy breakfast kudos of my wonderful mom.
And yeah, I'm pretty proud of the whole thing. I think it turned out really well, and Kona said she liked it (always a good sign.)
All that to say, I prepped, planned, and executed (on Christmas eve, I might add.)
I was slightly put off when Kona didn't return the favor that day. Or Christmas day. Or the weekend after. Or New Year's weekend.
In her defense, she stayed in communication with me and timing simply did not work out. Every day she had free to give me her present, I was busy, and vice-versa. Still, it was a little disconcerting.
On an unrelated note (or at least that's what I thought at the time) she invited me over to her grandparents house last weekend to celebrate Christmas with their family in Bowmont, Idaho. When we were about 10 minutes away, Kona informed me that this was her Christmas present: the present of quality time. I would be spending the day hanging out with her family and getting to know them.
I admit, I thought it was a very thoughtful gift, but my first reaction was nervousness. I really did not want to pull a Meet the Parents. But I figured jumping out of the moving car in front of my girlfriend and her entire family would probably be offensive to some degree, so I stayed along for the ride.
I had an AMAZING time! Getting to know new people is always a little awkward towards the beginning for me, but as I got to talking with her grandpa and uncle, I started to enjoy myself. I forgot everything about trying to make a good impression, or sell myself, and I just relaxed. It wasn't that I was focusing on being authentic, real and deep. Rather, I was me. 100% Colin William Mansfield. And I had a fantastic time!
Later that night, while we were packing up and getting ready to leave, I realized, or rather got a glimpse, of what it was I had been feeling that day. I had been feeling pure, raw joy. I had experienced the bride of Christ at her best. It was as though I had left behind all the negativity of life somewhere on the road out of Boise, and all that was left was this immunizing, numbing joy. All I can describe it as is the Joy of Jesus. Even as I came home, said my goodbyes to Kona and the rest of the Estes Clan, and crawled into bed, I could feel the waves of raw joy splash up onto my body.
Did I deserve this? No. Did Jesus still give it to me? Yes. And I stood in awe.
Have you experienced His raw Joy?
P.S. Kona- thank you so much. You have no clue what it meant to me. :-)
And Captain- thanks for driving. ;-)
Also- check out this video by The Rocket Summer. I think the lyrics are really interesting. See how it plays into being a Ground Shaker.