Working Hard To Own Joy
Why do I have to work so hard to own my joy?
Now, is it necessary for you to put in a lot of work to own your joy? That’s like asking, “Do you need coal to make a diamond?”
In Hawai’i we have hula dancers. My cousin would stay up all night stretching her calves for hours. Her toes would bleed all just because she wanted to do these pirouettes where she spins on her feet as though she were a ribbon twirling in the wind.
And I thought— why do you have to suffer so much— just to twirl? Why can’t you just be born that way?
I think that about money. Why can’t I just be given a lot of money or have one business idea that makes me wealthy? Why do I have to work so hard, 100 hours a week trying to take care of so many people?
Parents think that about their kids— “Can’t we just hire someone to raise our kids for us?”
Once, I saw this carpenter build his own house from the ground up. I’m like, “Can’t you just pay someone to build it? Or buy a house that’s already perfect?”
The reason is…
When you do the work yourself, whatever you build— including your own body, including your own business, or your own home, your own church— it has your love print on it. It becomes an extension of you.
It was made from your own hands, your own brain, your own heart. It was woven straight from the cloth of your soul.
You own it!
It’s literally made from your own skin, your own imagination, your own handiwork.
That’s why God doesn’t delegate his work to anyone else. He created you, himself. He designed you and laid out what you’d look like, your flaws, your strengths, your talents, your quirks— he handmade you— so that you’d be an extension of himself.
He took yarn and started crocheting— Mary— “Oops. I made her butt too big. Oh well, I’ll just go around it with a yellow outline. Wow. That just made it bigger. I’ll just put some orange on the top.”
And that is the reason why you bring him so much joy. You belong to him because he handmade you, specifically… just to be you.
And there was so much work and so much re-designing and so much thought— that went into making you and every time you broke or got injured or aged, God had to make sure that his original design of you stretched and evolved. It’s incredibly fulfilling for God…
It’s an incredible feeling— to look into the eyes of someone or of a project you created— and to see your soul shining back at you.
It’s so incredible!
And that’s why you do your work. Whenever something is really important— whether you get paid for it or not— like taking care of your sick child— that is your work. That is your purpose in the world.
You don’t delegate your work in the world to someone else. Instead, you suffer like the hula dancer because every drop of blood, sweat and tears— every last ditch effort you put into something— makes you own it. No one can take that away from you. No one can take what you own.
You own it.
You created it.
It belongs to you.
Please write in your journal:
When I don’t delegate my work to others, I own my joy.
We don’t like working that hard. Sometimes you don’t have balance. Sometimes you don’t get a break. Sometimes you burn the candle at both ends like that hula dancer.
Why does she have to tear up her skin and her bones and her body like that every day? Why so extreme?
We’re asking that because we can’t handle all that pressure on us, all the time— it’s too much. Too much pressure.
It’s that creative tension— that is so intense— we need a break from it sometimes.
That’s also the pressure that turns a lump of coal into a diamond.
The same pressure that turns a piece of dust into a pearl.
The same pressure that transformed Jesus into the Christ.
It’s just pressure. And we complain about that pressure, but that pressure is the tension of creativity. And it’s hard to sustain for long periods of time.
But if you ask the lump of coal if it was worth it— he’d say, “I dunno. All I know … is— now I’m a diamond.”
Destitute and Jobless
There was a two year period after I graduated Harvard where I couldn’t find a job for the life of me. No one would hire me. I was totally destitute and jobless. I must have applied to a hundred jobs.
Finally, after two years, I got a job.
I thought to myself, “Why did I stress out for two years? I could’ve gone camping for that whole two years and then afterwards, just gotten this same job that I got now?”
God said, “No you wouldn’t.”
That two years of struggling created this moment, right here, where I got a job. If I had spent that two years camping, I would’ve been relaxed. I needed two years of creative tension to build up to this moment where I could manifest an amazing job.
Sometimes it seems like nothing is happening on the surface.
Never Doing Nothing
When Jesus was fasting 40 days in the desert, it looked like he was doing nothing. In fact, in that nothingness— everything was happening.
That period of doing nothing was the tension he needed to become the Christ.
It was a transformative period.
Any time you are struggling, it is a transformative period for you. You’re turning into something that you can’t yet see or imagine. You might not know what it is, yet.
But one day, you’re just not a lump of coal anymore. You’re a diamond and you don’t even know how you got that way.
It just happened as a result of all that pressure you were experiencing.
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