Mary’s Message: Finding Joy

Greetings from the D.C. metro area! This week, the federal government reopened, the gears unstuck, and the beltway and metro escalators are once again snarled with commuters, ending record-breaking gridlock in our nation’s capital.

What does that have to do with joy?

The past month has been a stressful one for our nation’s federal workers. I watched as people’s moods shifted from a giddy extra day of sledding with their kids to a rising uneasiness about resources to the deepening malaise of uncertainty. As many of my neighbors headed back to their commute this week, however harried, I was sure I saw a bit of skip in their step.

There is, after all, a simple joy in predictability and normalcy.

Joy comes in many forms.

Another less public event happened in January. I celebrated another birthday. Though my three kids and I never voiced it to each other, the past year weighed on us, however irrational. With this birthday, I surpassed the years of life of my first husband. On the morning of my birthday, my daughter softly said, “You made it.” And we both understood.

Some moments of joy sound less like a trumpet and more like a balloon exhaling with relief. Joy can appear as a quiet smile of gratitude that we or someone we love has taken another breath and seen another sunrise.

Last week, I experienced an easy, inspired joy as I gathered with a group of wonderful faith-based association leaders to share ideas and reflections and explore collaboration. I must confess my commute to D.C. was breezy… a guilty glee.

This Monday, though, was confetti-filled happiness as we celebrated my daughter’s 19th birthday. As I dropped her back off at college, she beamed to be back with her pack of friends. I beamed to see her shine.

Joy comes in different forms from the shout-from-the-mountain-top joy to the silent, psalm-in-your-head joy. Joy is a gift. It’s God tapping us on the shoulder or thumping us over the head.

It is everywhere, but we must be on the lookout for it in its many forms. In the work you do, it is often subtle. An anxious child sitting still in school. A slim octogenarian finishing her meal.

You, as faith-based organization leaders, are called to lead people to create this joy for the people you serve. We are here to support you.

Where do you find joy?

Mary Kemper
President & CEO, UMA