30 Days of Joy
Don’t roll your eyes. I’m not about to lecture you about how awesome life is and how perky you should be. I intentionally included NO, I mean ZERO, photos of people holding hands and jumping up in the air together on a beach. No, I’m not one of those starry-eyed optimists that jumps out of bed every morning, singing a little happy tune while annoying everyone around me with “silver lining” mantras. But I have made a vow that I intend to keep. Perhaps after reading why, you might want to join me.
You see, the last few months, really the last couple of years, have not been dreamy, perfect, or filled with what we usually seek as “happiness”. They have been flat-out hard. In my younger years, I usually handled life’s challenges and difficult times by more or less “holding on” until things “got better”. Because then, they usually did. There were short seasons of hardship, but then the sun would come out and everything would seem to right itself again. I was young, strong, happy, and free. Life is different now. Responsibilities are huge. Raising children (let alone teenagers!) is hard. Losing loved ones is agonizing. Facing my own mortality and aging body is difficult. Grappling with lost friendships, unfulfilled dreams, unexpected changes, and failures can be staggering. Watching your children, parents, and family members suffer and struggle with various illness, surgeries, and even death, is crushing.
Life is definitely different now. It’s time for a new strategy. I can’t just wait until the next great day pops up around the corner to “fix” everything. I can’t just hold out until the next great moment sneaks up on me and makes everything better. I can’t just hope tomorrow will be “better”, because tomorrow might actually hold even more challenges & disappointments than today. So, a few days ago, I made a vow. 30 Days of Joy. That thought kept racing through my head as I trudged through another day full of unexpected obstacles. What if, no matter what happened, I spent the next 30 days looking for joy? What if I turned over every rock, looked into every crevice, and lifted up every leaf searching for the quiet treasures of life that bring genuine happiness?
That should be the end of this post. That should usher in the angels singing and I should sign off with a meaningful little quotation to round off the cliche. But then, literally right after making that vow, the next few days were filled with:
~A son who wound up in the ER
~A husband with a ridiculously severe case of strep (my doctor privately told me to rush him to the ER, too, if he wasn’t better in 24 hours)
~A new puppy who has to be taken out 10-12 times a day
~Oh yeah…did I mention the polar vortex that dumped inches of snow, sleet, and ice on the ground that this puppy must be walked through 10-12 times a day
~Oh yeah….and the polar-vortex-snow-dumping-weather is also responsible for the 5 children that are now out of school and home everyday that I must care for alone because of the strep-ridden husband
~Almost forgot….I’m leaving to take a team to Guatemala this weekend…..
You get the point…
Life called my bluff. How badly do I REALLY want to find joy? How hard am I really willing to search for it? How many curve balls can life throw at me before I give up seeking the hidden treasures?
If you are not serious about finding joy…depression, and misery, and despair are more than happy to find you.
It’s all about perspective. That does NOT trivialize the hardships of life. Life is hard. But it does acknowledge that true joy is not about a big, flashy, exciting moment. It is usually found hidden in the dark corners of life, if you just know how to find it. So, here is the flip-side of my previous list of the past few days:
~My son is doing fine now and we had a long discussion about life and health and love as a direct result of his ER visit
~My husband was literally SAVED by God from a very serious spread of infection by getting in to the doctor exactly when he did. He is well on his way to recovery now
~My kids, as loud and messy and crazy as they are when they are all home, are precious treasures who are making bracelets for me to take to Guatemala to give to young, single moms as gifts
~My puppy is making me crazy, but he is keeping me in shape and out of the house even in the middle of the polar vortex!
~Oh yeah….and I have the incredible privilege of taking a team to Guatemala this weekend to serve beautiful orphans, victims of sex trafficking, and sweet, precious people who know FAR more about having JOY in challenging situations than I ever will in my lifetime.