Beautiful Between

living fully in the now & not yet

Finding Joy on Bad Days

Last week, I had a bad day. No reason, no cause, just the edges of sorrow pressing up and recoloring moments, like Sadness from “Inside Out.” It happens now and then, and those days used to derail me, but not anymore.

I’ve learned joy is a well that can be dug and drawn from. My source is and always will be Christ – my peace, my satisfaction, my song. Just writing this bends my face into a broad smile and time pauses as I remember goodness.

Joy is a well that can be dug and drawn from Click To Tweet

On sad days, there’s also the power of thanks, counting tiny treasures and piling up the gratitude til I see it all around me.* By the end, my heart always feels lighter, more hopeful. It’s a small and simple discipline, but it changes so much in a few short moments.

Since we’re friends, I thought I’d let you in and share last week’s happy things with you. Here they are:

1. This bluebird day promising spring – still chilly after the rain, but not a cloud in the sky. The sunbeams streaming through the windows at The Well are making the edge of my tiny coffee carafe sparkle like diamonds. It’s gorgeous.

2. Ella and Louis crooning “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” in my earbuds. I can’t stop swaying at my table as song fades into song, Frank and Rosemary and Etta and Bing.

3. My sweet-wild niece, Chloe, and all the crazy things she says and does. A text from my sister with a Chloe quote is a sure path to a giggle or out-loud belly laugh. She draws me cats named Enah and makes me wear boxes for hats. She has my heart <3


4. A red-faced, elderly man laughing easily with younger people at his table, a Fair Isle sweater vest next to skinny jeans. He’s nodding like a sage, eyes crinkling, and I’m convinced he has hard-won wisdom and kindness to match. I wonder if he’ll catch me smiling at him.

5. Don’t throw any of yourself away. Austin Kleon said this in a wonderful little book and it won’t stop resounding in me. The thing is, you can cut off a couple passions and only focus on one, but after a while, you’ll start to feel phantom limb pain, Austin says. I know that phantom limb pain. It’s encouragement and hope as I’m learning to live out of my whole self.

6. Two sweet grandmas passing quilt squares across the table at the coffee shop. They’re discussing the finer points of construction details and seam allowances. It’s good for your soul to do this, one says, patting her friend on the shoulder. Their voices lower, eyes fill with tears. I think of my sister, my best friend, and coffee dates thirty and forty years from now, a lifetime of friendship exchanged in easy understanding.

7. The richness of celebrating a few young women graduating from our program this week, standing wholer and more healed than ever, with bright futures. It’s bittersweet and humbling and I always miss them fierce, but what rich beauty to walk alongside another, even for a short season.

That’s it! I hope these happy things put a smile on your face and remind you, even on sad days, to savor the sweet little things in life.

I’d also love to hear some of your happy things! What is making your life richer right now? Tell me in the comments! I so love hearing from you.

*I’m eternally indebted to Ann Voskamp, the lovely farm-wife-mama who wrote One Thousand Gifts. Her book taught me to find beauty everywhere and dig deep wells of joy. If you haven’t read it, you really should!

11 Replies

  1. As usual, I love this! Our pastor taught one time about the meaning of the word “rejoice”, as choosing joy again and again. To “joy-again”. To re-joy. And that’s it, when you have those deep wells, you just choose to draw from it, instead of the stagnation and sadness the world offers.

    Great post!

    1. That’s such a good way of looking at it. It’s true that you have to choose over and over again. Thanks so much!

  2. Jocelyn Simmons

    You have done it once again, made the Mama cry. You my darling, are indeed a source of great joy and encouragement. I love your photos, God has surely blessed our family with many amazing photographers!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and thought process.

  3. Love, love, love… It’s all I have for all of this. I absolutely love the picture you paint with your words!

    1. I love love love you! ❤️

  4. You know Sarah, those of us who don’t follow God share much of what you say in this article. The more I read what Christians write the more I’m convinced that faith has to be a personal aspect of how we might see our world. We’re all in it and we are all trying to make the best of it, despite the challenges life gives us. For me, your article represents a life half full, not half empty. Words of wisdom coming apparently from your very soul. Keep writing such things.

    1. Robert, thank you! You’re right, many of these principles are just good for life, regardless of what you believe. You’re always welcome here.

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