Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.
Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.
I was reading my favorite blog the other day when a word caught my attention: merrily. I forget the specific sentence (and honestly which post it came from), but the author intentionally inserted this adverb into her message. It snagged in my mind because I don’t chat merrily, I just chat. I don’t hum merrily, I just hum. I don’t live merrily, I just live. It seemed like a pretty but unnecessary word that interrupted my regular mental cadence. That was my red-flag moment.
Merrily (adv): in a cheerful way, without consideration of possible problems or future implications*
This word shouldn’t be considered pretty but unnecessary. Merrily is so far from who I am, so very close to who I want to be. I can get things done pretty efficiently, but the merry factor (apart from when I have Christmas music on and am running on sugar and egg nog) is definitely lacking. Not really sure why this is the case. Not really okay with the fact that this is the case.
Those who have seen me at church or around town might point to my typical upbeat sense of self. Before Riley and I met, his dad knew me not as ‘Kassie’ but as ‘Giggles.’ I’ve gotten lots of comments about my smile over the years, and I love trying to lift others up. But the face doesn’t always reflect the heart.
In all honesty, I run from merrily.
The last night of my first training for church planters’ wives, we celebrated with karaoke. There was a disco ball involved, and it got as crazy as a bunch of gospel-soaked Jesus-loving sisters can get. Every. Single. Woman. got up to do a group song or solo act. At least I think so—I missed the last half. Why? I snuck away to my room to escape joining in. That’s me, completely mature and godly, slinking down the stairs in the dark, brushing my teeth, and murmuring something about an early flight the next morning when a sweet sister poked her head in and asked if I’d like to join a bunch of girls singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
I love that song.
Laying alone in the quiet, barraging myself with how crazy and lame I am, merrily was the farthest thing from my mind. (I’ve since learned that this behavior is common for someone with my upbringing, personality, and high sensitivity—I get stressed out by having fun when others are watching. I might be nuts, but at least now I understand why I’m nuts. Which helps a little.)
Here’s the bottom line: I tend to make things too serious, too uptight, too controlled. But I don’t have to live that way anymore. I’m accepted. I’m chosen. I’m delighted in. I’ve been released from bondage, even bondage that’s self-imposed. A happy depth can mark my heart instead of beginning and ending at my face, and the joy of the Lord will echo true throughout my frame.
Living merrily allows for simple pleasure in the safety provided by a God who loves me. Reading through Scripture, I find a Creator who shouts joyfully over me. He runs to me when it goes against dignified cultural customs. He dies vulnerable, exposed, arms open wide against my isolation. God isn’t concerned about looking proper. He’s concerned about letting me know I have His heart. This Savior belly laughs. He makes the best jokes. He has a way of welcoming us all. When I grow up, I want to be like Him.
Basking happy in the freedom meant for me (and possibly maybe even getting in on some epic karaoke).