Joy Makes a Comeback!

Aria and RJ

Joy was like a distant relative I hadn’t seen since childhood. People who live in the extreme hemispheres don’t see the sun for so long that they forget its warmth and illuminating power. I remembered the term but couldn’t quite recall how joy felt. . .

Like a friend tossing pebbles at your window from below, joy invited me to open to it. I was tempted to respond, but was inhibited by the thought that it would be indecent for a person who was so sick and so recently divorced to have joy. . .

I didn’t—and still don’t—want to treat my marriage vows flippantly. I meant those promises when I recited them and never intended to go back on them. Maintaining a joyless existence seemed like the best way to remind myself of that—and at the time, it seemed noble.

But at that moment, I got a distinct impression from the Spirit, a sense of permission—if not instruction—to let myself be joyful again. “It’s okay. You can have joy without disrespecting your marriage or minimizing your loss,” the Spirit assured me. I didn’t need to maintain a dour countenance or punish myself by padlocking my heart. I could open the door for gladness . . .

So I cracked open the window for a brief visit from my old friend, and over time, joy and I have become constant companions again.


Yes, those beautiful girls are my daughter and granddaughter, both of whom have the middle name of “Joy.”


– Originally published in The Other End of the Dark: A Memoir About Divorce, Cancer, and Things God Does Anyway

6 Replies to “Joy Makes a Comeback!”

  1. I love Barney how you have always been vulnerable allowing everyone to see that pastors too are human. Thanks for modeling genuine, not perfect faith. Love you brother.

  2. I knew it the instant I saw those smiling faces. That must be his daughter. Gotta be. The thought stayed with me as I read the post. I wonder. It’s gotta be. Then at the end if the post it was confirmed. Marvelous! Blessed be. My friend.

  3. Barney, Thank you for your post about Joy. I’ll never forget what you said at our daughters memorial service of losing our firstborn daughter still in my womb after my car accident. You can choose to become bitter or better. David and I have chosen to become better. We named our daughter Angelica Rose Felts. Now our son Andrew will be getting married this weekend to his beloved bride Daisy from Brazil. God has been GOOD and given us 2 sons Andrew and Joshua. He has given us JOY even though we have had difficulties and trials in our lives. So very thankful for so many things God has and continues to do through our lives! You have been a huge impact in our lives Barney! May HIS JOY continue to shine in and through you!

  4. Barney you said here…“I didn’t—and still don’t—want to treat my marriage vows flippantly. I meant those promises when I recited them and never intended to go back on them. “
    Yes Barney, we make marriage vows for life in front of our Lord Jesus and our spouse! We should not quit on our spouse or walk away or file for divorce according to the Bible.

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