At age twenty-six, I was hired, miraculously, as the head women’s volleyball coach at NC State University in Raleigh, NC. During the interview, the Athletic Director asked repeatedly if I knew what I was getting into (I didn’t). Would I really be able to handle the many facets of a head coach position as I had exactly, uh, no experience in high-level Division I coaching?
“What, Mr. Athletic Director?! Haven’t I mentioned that I’m a seasoned twenty-six-year-old? I’ve lived long and seen much, my discernment know no bounds! I’ll make this program the jewel of the ACC! NCAA Champions in no time flat!”
I believe it was at this point in my rose-colored personal endorsement that I noticed the A.D. turning over my one-page, triple-spaced resume. Was he hoping to discover something more on the back-side that he might have missed on the front? Yet, even at that point in the interview, I knew it was God that had placed my rear-end in that red pleather chair, and it could only be God who would be able to turn this water into wine.
I was hired (really folks, it was a miracle), and about two weeks into the daily grind, I realized that God had failed to adequately mention this job he had given was going to be really, really, wildly hard.
A few months later, I was slumping down the hallway muttering grimly to myself and I bumped into my new boss. I’d already aged five dog years and had developed a nervous twitch and a horrible habit of continuously sighing. He pulled me aside. “Kim, I’ve been watching you. It seems as if you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. Well, for crying out loud, please stop it! That’s not why we hired you.”
He went on to tell me, rather gruffly if I remember correctly, that what I brought to the program was obviously not experience, or any amount of skill, or savvy (okay, I get it) but enthusiasm and joy. “We need someone with hope, energy and determination. Now please act like that person. Change your attitude, and don’t make me regret hiring you.”
This man was absolutely my favorite boss, ever. While I gave him plenty of reasons over the years to regret hiring me (I didn’t win very much), he championed the best in me, expected the best, hoped for the best. He reminded me of my own dad.
My father has made finding the good in all circumstances a holy art form. He is well-trained in finding the joy in all things, no matter how camouflaged in frustration, disappointment and hurt it may be.
One of my dad’s favorite phrases during those years in my first-real-job-that-kicks-your-butt-from here-to-next-week was, “Kimmy, don’t let it steal your joy”.
If I could give you one present this week, it would be a re-gift from my sage father and a good boss. “Pick up your heads, saints. Lift up your eyes. Circumstances may be daunting and hurtful and confusing, pressing hard at you from every side. Deep inside you may know you aren’t qualified to sort out all the mess around you – and in you – but don’t be discouraged: don’t let it steal your joy.”
Just as I was hired to bring a shot of energy to a weary volleyball program, we’ve all been given breath to sing hope and encouragement to a discouraged world!
The hope of the righteous brings joy. (Proverbs 10:28)
What is stealing your joy?
What was waiting behind your eyelids before you even opened your eyes this morning? What is making you feel sour, blue, despairing, turned in towards self? Whatever it is, it’s not doing you any favors, is it? Stop right now and think hard. Where is your hope? Why do you think you have been granted breath for today?
The hope of the righteous brings joy.
Our hope and joy can’t be stolen by career failings (I’ve had plenty, some epic), relational misunderstandings, personal shortcomings, other people, and even great evil. Why? Because our joy is not of this world, it is poured into our hearts by God himself to bring hope and beauty into the world he loves.
The joy of the righteous cannot be crushed by any circumstance in this life, even to death. Why? Because the righteous have hope that they are precious in God’s sight. So precious, in fact, that God’s own son was crushed so that we might be clean and right, and so nothing would ever be able to steal us from him forever.
The hope of the righteous brings joy.
Where is your hope? Where is your joy?
Go in peace (and go Wolfpack!)