What You Don't Need to Achieve in 2024

“Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds.” Psalm 149: 5 (ESV)

I don’t think it was an accident, this week.

By this past December, I had enjoyed a full year of good health and strength and all the things that eluded me during the book-inducing nonsense of 2020-2021.

I had finished my first book, re-vamped my web site, executed a marketing plan, et cetera et cetera et cetera, firing on my newly found cylinders.

And then there was the Amazon delay. And then the book was suddenly in need of reformatting. (Speaking of booking, I wasn’t booking auditions either.) And then, abruptly, two and a half months late, the baby book was ready for big promotion on Amazon, and where did I find myself?

On bed rest. Full circle.

I’ll spare you the details, but complications from a recent hysterectomy led my doctor to declare me, in her words, not mine, a “delicate flower.” She banished me from, well, walking or standing. Anywhere. Not to do dishes. Not to cook. All of this over CHRISTMAS EVE AND CHRISTMAS DAY AND NEW YEARS EVE AND NEW YEARS DAY, mind you, plus the week before that, when all of my family was in town from far-flung places.

Now listen. I know this sounds pretty amazing, at least the not-doing-dishes part. But it’s a lot less amazing when hemorrhaging and the prospect of more surgery hangs over your head like an anvil, and when you can’t walk around with your new baby niece on your hip. (Also less amazing: the threat of Covid, yet again, which four of my family members contracted during this time. I was spared, which is really out of character for me, as you know.)

So abruptly, as in 2020-2021, I found myself turning to soup on the sunroom couch again, staring out at the oak with nothing to do. My family — my sisters and brothers and parents — were googling “wheelchair rentals at Northpark” in an effort to preserve the long-held McQuitty tradition of plowing through the crowds at the Mall to End All Malls, but no.

Dr. M looked up at me with a temporarily blank expression, and said, “Are you kidding me right now? Do you want to have an emergency in the middle of a MALL?”

I wouldn’t have minded.

When the pathology report came back, Dr. M used words like “monster” to describe the uterus that was the cause of all this new drama, but my real question was when I would be able to walk around Ward Parkway again and visit my trees.

Joy seems instinctively like something you go out and find, or go out and create, or go out and experience, and not something you stay here and receive. I want to go out into the world and revel and delight in it — in the simple act of using my leg sticks to walk me around the kitchen to make a pie, or in the simple act of taking The Eyeballs to her favorite stop sign down the street to inspect.

But I am here to tell you, fresh off my imprisonment, that the joy can come to you.

Psalm 149:4-5 says, “For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds.” (Ps. 149:4-5, NIV.)

When God goes out and looks for joy, he finds it in his people. In us. I don’t have to achieve this; it’s just the way things are. It’s not because I’m godly or glorious in and of myself, but because he’s given these identities free of charge. The profound truth that God not only loves me, but enjoys and revels and rejoices at my existence – what could complete me better than a bone-deep knowledge that this is true?

I don’t have to achieve victory or lovability. The end. I don’t need more luminosity or admiration other than His. The end. This state of being is the ultimate state. Maybe this is why people in bed are best poised to enjoy this reality; we have nothing more to contribute to the reasons this might be true.

Even in a soupy, un-productive and fragile mode, I am a source of divine satisfaction. I come to the end of me and find the beginning of Him. Even on my back in bed.

Clearly, physical limitation is what it takes for Yours Truly to realize — and finally revel in — this. I’m a tough case, apparently. But you don’t have to be. Learn from the time-outs God has put me in. If you don’t find yourself literally bed-bound today, lean into the parts of you or the parts of your life that feel bed-bound. The humble areas. The tender spots. The thorns. Sit in those places of fragility and dare to feel your nevertheless-belovedness today.

You can’t contribute to that bank account in 2024. It’s already full.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julie K. Rhodes the author of the newest book, Chronic Grace, lives in Fort Worth, TX, with her husband Gordon and two teenage kids Drew and Maddie, plus pug Eloise ("The Eyeballs."). She performs regularly on stages all over Dallas-Fort Worth area and has multiple film and commercial credits.

 
 

You may also contact Julie at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule her for speaking or leadership engagements.