No Greater Joy

She radiated joy. She danced with unfettered abandon. When she laughed, waves of hilarity splashed onto those around her. Eyes sparkling, this new teenager utterly squeezed every ounce of delight from the day, wasting no opportunity for silliness and merriment.

On my daughter's 13th birthday, I soaked in every precious moment, silently and continually thanking God for His goodness. I couldn't help but remember my own childhood. The contrast brought tears to my eyes as I remembered the violence, anger, abuse, hunger and rejection my 4 siblings and I knew as normal, everyday life.

Part of me marveled at the innocent, unbridled joy my daughter now exhibited. Part of me hurt as I witnessed the God-given confidence and security I never possessed while growing up. The two of us are so much alike - given to drama, intense, fun-loving, friendly, never one to hold back our opinions. For a brief moment I wondered how I might have turned out...if only.

Shaking myself back into the present, I laugh as Emily dances the tango with a friend on the front lawn, inspiring all the other girls at her party to find a partner and do the same. I realize that a measure of healing occurs each time I watch my precious daughter revel in her freedom. And I let go of the longing for a different childhood. Somehow I come to terms with the fact that God has truly worked all things in my life out for good - and He will continue to do so as long as I trust Him.

My heart swells as the girl's laughter echoes through our neighborhood. I rejoice that Emily knows more about the Lord at her tender age than I did at twice her age - cause for true celebration.

Because of the cross, because of the truth of God's word and His unending love and faithfulness, the cycle of hurt has been broken in one more family.

And my joy is complete.

Copyright © 2008 Julie Gillies. All rights reserved.


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Oh, Julie. This is a precious portrait of grace in action. My father was a guest blogger on my blog this weekend. He talked so eloquently about our early memories and how they continue to be "the stuff" of our struggles and our growth.

I see so much of my life playing out differently in the lives of my children...some good, some not so much. I especially watch my 6 year old daughter. She is cut from the same cloth, and I want her to grow up with a healthy sense of self and confidence...a contrast to my own beginnings.

You have beautifully penned what so many of us feel as we grow alongside our children as they grow.


achildoftheking said...

Julie, I can relate to you about the childhood memories. I tried to give my daughter what wasn't given to me. Please pray for my reconciliation with my daughter and her reconciliation with God.

On Purpose said...

Julie...can I say that I am so blessed to come and read this post today. I have been SO surrounded with Romans 8:28 the past few days! God is so perfect and so awesome...and your life is a testimony to His amazing GRACE. Continue to live right in the middle of His grace filled relationship.

Anonymous said...

WOW! I can so related. I have two sons and I've had the same feelings you wrote about. Someone once said to me, "You had something to do with that." The truth is, even if it's in only a small way, I know I did - and that's enough to make me smile. Thanks so much for sharing your heart, Julie.

Sonya Lee Thompson said...


What a sweet heart changing post. I am sorry that your life growing up was so difficutl, but Praise God that you and your hubby have been able to change all of that through God's power and love.

I am thankful for your daughter's 13th birthday! May He continue to heal your sweet, sweet heart.


PS. If you aren't currently writing for publication, you should be! You are a talented writer. :)

Susie said...

You do have a precious daughter Julie, and I am rejoicing with you that the cycle is broken.

God is so good, and what a ministry Emily will have! Your choice to follow God had affected future generations to come. Wonderful post!

KelliGirl said...

God is so gracious and loving and merciful. What a wonderful story your post told. Being a mom is the greatest priviledge and responsibility. It also brings us so many points of comparison from our own childhoods--some good and some bad. Thank God He uses every victory and every struggle for His glory.


Kelly said...

This broke my heart, because I of course could relate on every level. I too have begged God to change my childhood, and even begged for a strong older mentor woman. He said no. He did surround me with godly peers and his grace is sufficient.

Happily I too am breaking the cycle with my 2 lovely daughters.

Soul mates, you & I. God bless you richly.

Angela said...

This is so beautiful- and heartfelt! Since I have a 14 year old daughter- I was nearly in tears!

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