Undignified Joy

Over the last few days, our family has had the opportunity to get away and do something we seem rarely able to do…play. Just play.
After telling the kids we would go to Universal Studios “some” day for a few years, we decided the time was right.

We rode all the rides our legs could carry us to and stand in line with.

People from all over the world with different skin colors and clothing styles were there speaking a number of different languages.  The diversity of the world was exciting to be immersed in…

Out of the thousands of people at Universal, 1 stood out to me above the rest. I don’t know her name or her life story.

She was probably between 12-14 years old and no doubt did not fit in with the seemingly overwhelming see of pre-teen, teenage, and adult women who made it their mission to wear as little clothing as possible.  No, she had baggy clothes and crazy colorful shoes that were probably more befitting of an elementary school student.

At first glance, her hair, dress, shoes and stature reminded me of a favorite show from my own childhood, Punky Brewster.

No doubt she didn’t fit in to the culture around her.

But that’s not what caught my attention…

On our last day, as we rode one of the last moving sidewalks (which should be standard on all walkways, btw) there she was just standing at the end with a huge smile on her face.

Our kids were doing what they had done all week, which was to play, run, and have fun with each other. They told jokes, acted silly, and entertained each other as well as their parents.  I’m pretty sure we got some looks from a few for being too silly at times…

This girl, though, just watched them and smiled.  The closer they got, the brighter her smile became.
It was the kind of smile that you knew lived there often…a joy that was rooted somewhere deep…in a girl that didn’t seem to fit in with all the rest of the girls in the park.

That is a real kind of joy.
One that doesn’t rely on the approval of others.
It’s not only a joy to watch, it’s the kind of joy God wants each of us to have.

I don’t know who this girl was and I will never see her again, but I will remember her smile…her joy…and I will endeavor to live that same way.

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