Finding My Way Back to Joy


nicole t walters -back to joy3“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.” ― A.A. Milne

It was like we were in the middle of the fireworks show as they exploded with light and sound on every side of us. The crowd gasped with awe and let their delight be known in applause and audible “oohs” as Wilbur frolicked through the state fair. It was pure magic watching my children see Charlotte’s Web acted out feet in front of us at a local puppetry center.  

When the show started, my eyes naturally focused on the black shapes moving in the background. My mind went into evaluation mode as I tried to figure out how the puppets worked and how the people controlled the seamless movement of the delightful characters. I looked back to the sound and light booth to scope out the source of the fireworks that enveloped the theatre. It was then that I heard the most beautiful sound. My six-year-old was snuggled next to me in the dark theatre and he erupted with laughter when one of the puppets tripped over the barn door and went flying through the air.

I stopped looking at the play and started watching him. His eyes were transfixed on the stage in fascination and his hands fidgeted in his lap, trying to contain his excitement as he waited to see what was next. I suddenly saw one of my favorite childhood stories completely differently—through his eyes. I have always loved the tale of friendship and sacrifice and wanted to share it with my children. Charlotte’s Web was the first chapter book we read together at bedtime. But for the first time in years I saw it as more than something to pass on to them, but a delight to experience anew. I wanted to stop observing their lives and start living alongside them with childlike wonder.

I started listening and watching their reactions more after that. When I met a circumstance with worry, they saw the opportunity in it. As I evaluated  when we needed to sleep on our transatlantic flight to ensure we’d arrive with the best leg up on jetlag, they counted how many movies they could watch. While I asked for prayer for our transition into a new culture and all the logistics of our move, they dreamed about what their new room would look like, glorying at the opportunity to get all new stuff.

As we embark on a brandnew adventure in life, I don’t want to miss it because of my tendency towards anxiety and planning. Yes, someone has to keep the schedule and figure out the meals and homework and all the practicalities. But there’s more to life than to-do lists and I don’t want to miss the joy of new discoveries and the delight of God meeting us in the unknown. I want to return to seeing the world through the eyes of a child.

After the newness of a different culture wears off, I know I will find myself trudging through the same mundane tasks I did back in the United States. Life will still be life, no matter where it is lived. Whether a new adventure or the same old thing, I can choose to see the hidden beauty or focus on the mechanics behind the scenes ruining the magic.

So here and now I make the commitment to return to delight. I choose to see the world in the way my children do. I am deciding to believe as they do:

Every day is a new adventure waiting to be discovered.

Everyone is a friend waiting to be found.

The world is full of possibilities and I can do anything.

Imagining is fun and creating for the sheer fun of it is necessary.

I don’t have to care what other people think.

I can slow down and watch life happen.

I know I’ll have to remind myself every day of these truths I forgot long ago. They won’t easily replace my desire for structure and hurry, for plans and schedules. But I have the best teachers in the world. Every time I am tempted to forget, I will see the astonishment in two little pairs of eyes that look to me for direction. And I’ll take a cue from them instead. I’ll try to let go and find my way back to joy.


Nicole T Walters
I love to experience and to write about this messy, noisy, beautiful world and cultures not my own. Though my family’s roots run deep in the soil of the Southern United States I, along with my husband and our two little ones, am learning to love hot milk tea instead of sweet iced tea as we make our home in South Asia. I hope to help others create space to hear God’s voice in all the noise of life as I write about faith from a global perspective at A Voice in the Noise {}. I have authored essays in several books and my writing has appeared in places live CT Women, Relevant, and Ruminate. I am a regular contributor at here at SheLove, The Mudroom, and READY Publication and am a member of the Redbud Writers Guild.
Nicole T Walters
Nicole T Walters

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  1. Kathy Rollings Tingle says:

    As I read your thoughts and remember you as a child being delighted when you discovered something new, I know the feelings. You and your sister could make me smile when I didn’t think I could. You opened my eyes to new things that I didn’t experience.
    Then when you as a child lead me back to Christ, what an amazing gift of watching the world through it a childs eyes. Thank you for continuing to teach me. I am,seeing so much more through you and my grandchildren daily. Love, Mom

  2. My first response is to analyze rather than delight in a situation. I’m thankful for my girls and all they teach me about living in wonder in the moment. Thank you, Nicole, for this reminder!

  3. These are important words for me. I have always put things in order after each move before I could look around at the adventure and newness of where we were. Because my husband was away 50% of the time, this seemed forever. It took my grandchildren to really break this mold. Oh it’s still there…with cracks now.

    • Yes, I want to be settled! I am learning that in this country with the way life works and our language barriers I simply am not going to find settledness here for a while. Maybe that will help break the mold, too? God is always working on us. So glad your grandchildren are teaching you, too!

  4. I love it when words leave a trail of bread crumbs into the vision and experience of another Christ-follower.

  5. Lori Sheffield says:

    Thank You Nicole. I want to join you leaning over the bridge and figuring out what life is all about. I’m in a new place too…Allowing the Lord to direct my days. I’m learning when to say no and when to step up and do the hard things when it comes to protecting my loved ones. God is stretching me like He is You too. When He does, people get to see more of Him and less of me and You as we walk this journey of Faith until we meet Him face to face. Love You Sweet One! Keep writing….I hear God’s encouragement through your words.

  6. You are ON FIRE. In the best way.

    So so beautiful, Nicole. I loved what you did with the revelation.

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