I had thought joy’s flame needed protecting.
All these years, these angers, these hardenings, this desire to control, I thought I had to snap the hand closed to shield joy’s fragile flame from the blasts. In a storm of struggles, I had tried to control the elements, clasp the fist tight so as to protect self and happiness. But palms curled into protective fists fill with darkness. I feel that sharply, even in this… and this realization in all its full emptiness. My own wild desire to protect my joy at all costs is the exact force that kills my joy.
Flames need oxygen to light.
Flames need a bit of wind.
[…T]here it is, the secret of joy’s flame: Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control…let go of my own way, let go of my own fears. Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy’s fire. Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace. Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love and whisper surprised thanks. This is the fuel for joy’s flame. Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will. And I can empty. I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me. I can empty because I am full of His love. I can trust.
I can let go.”
–Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts