Another day, another inner struggle to find joy amidst the rubble of the stuff from which we build our stories . Stories that tell of who we are. What we are. What we want to become.
My story: I want to find joy, and oft I have tried to claim it. I have even chosen it as my trademark by which I want my life to be defined. I write about it, think about it, blog the topic, try to embrace it in my everyday interactions. But, oh how often I live without joy in my day-to-day life, and particularly devoid of such as it concerns the ones who matter most.
We, my Husband, children and I, wake early. We have a journey to make in these early hours to a hospital in the capitol city. The children are easily aroused from slumber and before we know it, we are off. We make the necessary drop-offs for children attending school for the day, and settle the one accompanying us, now sitting in the middle seat of our van, down with a movie.
I draw deep breaths so as to calm myself. I cannot seem to shake the tension.
As we drive away from home and the familiar, I sit glumly reviewing the events preceding this day. The stressors of life: demanding work schedules, cranky children, marital tension from lack of time to truly communicate, over-committing to things I could have refused, illness, the death of our dog. Add to this list, private pains and griefs to deep to share.
Life is so hard. So many disappointments faced in this brief expanse of time we call our life. Many of these former recollections listed above have acted to bring me down to a place that is joyless. Whoever said life was easy has not walked in my shoes. And quite possibly these same ones are walking in shoes much sturdier than my own. For my shoes are threadbare and worn. The soles are thinning. The laces stretched. The canvas ripping. It is time for a new pair of shoes.
Joy-less. It is a feeling that overpowers and blinds. It strips the soul bare and lays it wide open.
I settle my husband for day surgery. As I leave, I think to myself, this is another event in a long line of worries. We commit our ways and the doctor’s hands into God’s care. Still, we worry. For we are but human. We are frail.
I drive off while Husband is on the operating table; the nurses have assured me that I cannot be there in the recovery room, and they will call me on my cell phone when he is ready to be picked up.
As I pass the time, I find myself driving through the city. I am in no mood to shop, but I hate to waste precious time that has been given to me. I rarely have a moment without the children. To be alone and free to come and go is a rare gift. As I drive, I feel myself sinking again. Pity. I feel pity for myself. It is such a weak emotion. I see myself as small and insignificant. Who am I in comparison to others that seemingly have it so much better? Who have accomplished far more? Whose lives are full and joyful? I feel emotions changing from pity to resentment? Why me? Why should I have to endure disappointment in life? Or disappointment with life? Why can it not be more joy-full? After all, that is what I am pursuing, am I not? Is my search for joy only in vain? Such cruel punishment to bear.
I drive, and as I come up to a corner on a busy intersection, I spot a sign on a church billboard. This is what it reads: Life is not a remote control. Be the Change.
Be the change? Is it that easy? What I am after, what I strive to choose is joy. If that is what I desire, it is that I must do.
Be the change.
In order to find joy, I must be joy. I must be joy in whatever form joy can be represented. Because to know joy, is to be joy.
I think hard. Being joy is easier said than done, is it not? Can I do this? Am I up for this challenge?
Being joy: can it be a smile? A gesture of goodwill? A word of kindness? A thoughtful gift to a heartbroken mother on Mother’s Day? A phone call to say you are thinking of another and care enough to make the call? Can it be an extra measure of patience with a child who possibly deserves no more chances? Or is it simply done by making time to read together, play together, talk together with the ones you dearly love? Is joy found in showing grace for one who seems beyond the scope of love? Is it found in understanding for those that walk a different path than my own? Or acceptance that this is my own lot in life and that life is truly good? Is it peace with myself? Charity towards others? Self-sacrifice for the greater good? Gratitude in everything and for everything?
Joy. Is it not all-encompassing?
But of course! All of life encompasses joy. For joy is courage, perseverance and strength to carry on. The joy of the Lord is my strength. I can be joy because to do otherwise is to never know the mystery.
Joy. I choose it. Daily, I can be it. Even if but once in that cycle of darkness changing to light and again to darkness. A day is not too long a time spans within which to be joy for another. And when I am joy, I will finally know it. For in the giving the blessing is incurred. Joy rewards seven-fold to the giver.
Be the change. Be the joy you wish to be in possession of. Be the joy.