The JOY of Joy Prom
For the past eight years, Sunday mornings have been a bright spot in my week because I get to welcome a sweet young lady named Savannah into our Access class and together we learn truths from the Bible.
Let me tell you a little something about my buddy, Savi. She is a make-up wearing, hug-giving, fingernail painting, artistic teenage fashionista who, once a year, gets to show the world her inner princess at our annual Joy Prom.
The excitement begins weeks before the actual event. One Sunday morning, our classroom gets filled with lace and frills, pink and purple princess gowns, and of course all the accessories a girl could dream of. And for one day, we set aside our planned lessons and we play dress up—looking for the perfect dress. One thing you’ll realize quickly if you are lucky enough to meet Savi is that she doesn’t talk much. But that doesn’t mean she won’t let you know exactly what she is thinking. Like I said, Savi has her own style and each year she chooses the dress that she loves. And as I watch a smile light up her face when she sees herself in the floor length mirror—dressed to the nines—I am reminded of why we do this.
Joy Prom allows us, as a church body, to stand alongside some incredible kids and adults—like my friend Savi—and proclaim this truth: that our uniqueness is amazing and wonderful and we are so very loved by our Creator.
But the fun doesn’t stop with a simple dress fitting. No, weeks later Savannah dons that princess gown and heads to Joy Prom to get the royal treatment. I greet her before she even gets in the doors to get a quick smile and a hug, but soon she is whisked away for her grand red-carpet entrance. As her name is announced, hundreds of volunteers cheer her on. And her smile shines bright. She is quickly crowed with her very own princess tiara, and then–almost immediately–Savi heads towards the horse and carriage. As she heads off on her Cinderella carriage ride, joy is written all over her face.
So for me, Joy Prom is so much more than a three hour event we host once a year. Instead, Joy Prom and my friendship with Savannah have taught me that I should have a Joy Prom mindset each day of my life. I need to seek joy in all the little things, encourage others in the highs and lows of life, and always—always—look beyond perceived “disabilities” and see others as God sees them. This year as the final dance is announced, I know that I will once again walk away from Joy Prom with a grateful heart, overflowing with true joy.