The Bend and Stack

I’m in. I want it and I want it real bad. I want a life stacked on joy. A life built on rejoicing. A life graced with gratitude.

But how?

As I grapple with what I know of this joy stacking equation, this unempty-moment-living, I’m struck by a recurring posture of both the head and the heart: bending.

There is the stacking, the adding up of joy and gifts. But there is also the bending.

The bending of heads in prayer. The bending down to notice. The bent posture of a humble heart.

You can’t have joy without humility. I think I really believe that.

Joy requires the humility to relinquish cynicism. The humility to seek prayer. The humility to seek help (I am learning this one oh-so-richly right now).

I recently rediscovered this audacious prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi that speaks to the paradox of this bend-your-heart-in-humility-and-you-will-be-lifted-up-with-joy. This paradox of our faith.

He prays,
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

In case you missed it the first time, “For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.”

It is in this humility, this bending low of ourselves and our priorities and our vindication, that we find God. It is in humility that we find ourselves gifted with the call to participate in the ministry of Jesus. It is in humility that we can sow love and heal nations and bring life.

It is in humility that we stack up joy.

And so today I give you the best new dance move in my spiritual repertoire: the bend and stack.

While I’m pretty sure it won’t win me back an ex-boyfriend, I am certain I want to cultivate the kind of heart bending that leads to joy stacking.

6 thoughts on “The Bend and Stack

  1. Aly- I do so love to read your blogs! One of these days I'm going to do the same- hopefully not too late in life that my thoughts become too elusive to write down and record what's in my heart. You have a gift and I enjoy it. Keep it up!

  2. Aly Lewis says:

    Thanks, Aunt Sissy!

  3. M says:

    I love your title for this post! I also love Legally Blonde. 🙂 Humility is such a challenge, especially in our culture of pride and entitlement, but it's good to remember that humility is rewarded with JOY.

  4. Aly Lewis says:

    Ha! I'm glad someone appreciates the Legally Blond reference :)Humility is such a difficult posture to take. Have you read Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts? It's a wonderful call to humility in exchange for joy.

  5. M says:

    I haven't read it, but I might just have to. I've heard you mention it before, and it's a topic of interest for me. Lately I've been humbled by life events, because I recognize that I was foolish in an area of my life where I really thought I was being wise. I want to embrace the challenges I'm experiencing though, so that I can learn, grow, and develop a more solid character. I want to milk this for every drop of wisdom, compassion, and faith that I possibly can. Instead of feeling ashamed for being foolish, I want to say, "Look at me! I'm so humble now!" (but obviously not out loud).

  6. Aly Lewis says:

    (chanting) Read it! Read it!That's so cool that you see the hard times as an opportunity to grow. And I love the irony of shouting proudly about how humble you are 🙂

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