Crossing cultural & social lines with Joy

photo credit: AlicePopkorn via photopin cc

photo credit: AlicePopkorn via photopin cc

I try not to blog much about work in case I say too much or say the wrong thing. It’s the same with my relationships, I try not to blog too much about them either. But, sometimes, things happen and I am so incredibly moved by them, I just have to figure out how to share them.

This is one of those stories. (cue dramatic music)

If you’re like me, or not but just enjoy a bit of quiet and peace, working in a corporate culture with low walled cubes can be draining because of the lack of privacy. Every word uttered aloud can be heard by someone else. I have learned there are some remarkably good things that come out of it, too, though.

One morning near Christmas, I just had a song in my heart. You know what I mean? And, as I passed by my co-worker’s cube, whose American name is Joy (she is from South Korea), that I’ve passed every day for the last year, without even thinking, I started singing to myself but aloud, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart…” A song I learned as a kid in Sunday School. One of my favorites because it was interactive, we’d all sing and shout, “Where?!” and reply, “Down in my heart.”

As I got to the shout part, I stopped by her cube door and said, “Hey, Joy – do you know this song?” as I sang her a line in my best child like voice.

photo credit: 27147 via photopin cc

photo credit: 27147 via photopin cc

Now, I hadn’t ever talked with Joy about God or church. And, honestly, in our environment I’ve been pretty safe to do so, but I’m always aware that I work with so many people from other countries and cultures that they may not respond with open arms to a question about such things. So, I’m sensitive because some of the stories of where they’ve come from are heartbreaking. And, it’s good to present God’s love with consideration.

Her eyes lit up under her angled bangs, and she said, “Yes, I do!” in a hushed tone. She smiled so big and asked me, “Are you a Christian?” with such anticipation that I stepped closer to her to respect how quietly she was speaking.

I replied, “Yes! Are you?” She nodded enthusiastically and we both started laughing sharing such a treasured secret if you will.

And, she went on to tell me that in South Korea she learned this song as a child. And, she began to sing it in Korean while I sang it in English and we giggled like the little girls that first learned it.

I don’t know her story and she doesn’t know mine, but in that moment it didn’t matter. We were those young hearts that were learning about the love of Jesus and singing about it with hearts that believed.

As we did this, a man walked up to the cube. We both froze. He was a man known for being cynical and a bit hurtful. Because he himself is a hurting man. And, don’t we all relate? When we have a vast hurt inside of us, other people’s happiness seems to expose it, shine a bright light on it and we feel worse. Unless they reach out and share it with us. Include us in it.

She stopped smiling and just looked at him. He asked if we were singing, here at work? He said looking a bit like we were so childish. And, we were, but in a good way!

She blushed and I quickly started rattling off as I do when I’m nervous. My only encounters with him include him being bitingly sarcastic about how happy I am, yelling at me for something that’s not my fault, but also apologizing. So, I get very nervous around him.

But, that day with Joy next to me and joy in me, I replied confidently and a bit protectively because I didn’t want her to regret our moment, and she could go back into her shell so quickly. So, as if to beat him to the punch, I said, “Why yes! And, it’s just the craziest thing that I’ve worked here over 3 years and I’ve never sang aloud in a cube with a coworker before and you, of all people, walk by and hear us!”

He just looked at me like he was deciding if I was putting him down or not. He landed on not (phew!). And, said, smiling for the first time I’ve ever seen in a conversation, “Well, I like it! It made my day.” And, he walked away.

And, like two girls who’s dad was telling them to pipe down and go to sleep, we bellowed over laughing! Sighing with relief!

And, that began a new friendship. Where in this culture of perfection, and do more, do more, do more and we are defined by our performance, not our heart – we just enjoyed the warm presence of a loving God letting us know we weren’t alone. And, what a surprise it was to discover just when I least expected it.

And, in that I found Joy.


  1. What a blessing….not only to you and Joy….but to those of us who read this. Thank you for sharing…..God is so very amazing.


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