Look For the Joy

I am pulling out of the neighborhood to go to preschool when a huge truck on gigantic wheels roars up behind me.  My rear bumper and his front bumper are only a breath apart.

He stays on my bumper until he is able to pass me on Rte. 17 and when he passes, he roars by angrily.  He gives me a hostile glance and continues on, flying down the road much too fast.

My going the speed limit has really offended him.

Fast forward an hour or two and I’m at the grocery store.  There is a bagger there that I often see and I don’t think he enjoys his job.  He always grumbles through putting the groceries in my cart.

He continues to grumble as he wheels my cart out to the family truckster.  He tells me far more than I need to know about how corporate just doesn’t get the needs of their store.

I tell him to have a good day and he doesn’t reply.

I think about both of these men later as i’m ruminating on the day with my hands in soapy dishwater.

They were both angry at the outset.  The one was in a hurry, furious that a speed limit keeper would be in front of him on such a busy day.  The second was put upon, a victim, angry that his job wasn’t the way he thinks it ought to be.

I pray, “God, give them both something to be thankful for today.”

Truth is, the attitudes of both caused me some anxiety.  Because bitterness, grumpiness, hostility…it can be contagious.  And I’m working so hard on holding steady.  Letting God be the master of my attitude.

I pray again…”God, give those men something to be thankful for.  Give their hearts some joy.”

And He reminds me of how it was when I was looking for troubles and not looking for joys.   Some people get trapped living their lives like that- always looking for hardship, looking to be offended, looking for reasons to be put upon and disgruntled.  I was living like that.  It’s a truth I can’t deny.

And I painted it as realism, as being honest and authentic.  I’m not denying that in this life I have troubles.  I do.

Right now, I have a husband who must be away from home an awful lot each day.  He has to do this so that we have enough money to cover our expenses.  He leaves around 7:30 in the morning and he returns between 7:00 and 7:30. That makes for a long day for a family who misses him.  It makes for a long day for this stay at home mom, to be sure.  But we are so thankful for the provision of the second job.  So thankful.

We long for our sixth child but it just isn’t coming.  The project is currently on hold because my back and my joints are not at their best…Medications, pain, finding a diagnosis…this is the focus for the next few months.  But we are so thankful for the five we have and the “extras” God has given us.

And while we’re on the subject…my pain has lately worsened.  My back spasms, my joints ache, I am stiff and rickety.  I’ve got a cabinet full of medications and a prescription for an X-ray in my purse.  But I’m so thankful that I can still go about my daily routines (except for vacuuming…that one chore really gets my back hurting) and I’m so thankful for a doctor who is thorough and who is committed to getting me feeling better.

These are our challenges right now.  These three things.

My gratitude journal?  Where I’m counting out my joys?  More than three hundred things.

I wake up hopeful, expectant, cheerful.  (Most of the time.)  Because even though there are hard things, He is faithful to me.

It bottom lines to a choice- would I rather be joyful or would I rather be angry?

And it’s not about denying the truth.  It’s not about ignoring the hard things.  It’s not about assuming that magic genie God will pop out of the lamp at the right time and give me exactly What I Want exactly When I Want It.  He doesn’t work that way because that’s not good parenting.

Yesterday, I would not give Claire the desire of her heart.  She deeply, deeply longed for a black Sharpie with which to color her legs.  (This is a new passion of hers.)  I said no and I took the Sharpie away.  And, when she had a fit, she got a time out on the stairs.  She did not understand why I would not give her the Sharpie, but I know that I don’t want to have to scrub Sharpie off of walls and baby legs.  She’s not old enough for the Sharpie and she can’t understand that, but I can.

Being thankful doesn’t mean that we get all that we want.  It means that we are content with what we have.  It keeps our eyes from searching for the things we don’t have and keeps us focused on the here and now.

And some things just suck.  Being thankful doesn’t magically make my memories of my divorce sunny and cheerful.  That was a hard thing and it impacted my children and it impacted me.  It sucked a lot.

Being thankful doesn’t mean that my miscarriage wasn’t a horrible experience.  It was horrible and I miss that baby…that baby that would be close to a month old and a welcome addition to all this beautiful chaos.

Being thankful doesn’t erase the things that hurt…it just opens our eyes to the things that bless.

I had to be willing to give up “Poor Me”.  Because Poor Me doesn’t work when you’re thankful.  You can’t fit a full measure of gratitude and a full measure of self pity in the same heart.  I want the gratitude more.

Don’t you want the gratitude more?

Start today.  Read about the Joy Dare online, download the “1000 Gifts” app, get an old notebook, buy a new journal.  Start small.  Start HERE!  Name three things you are grateful for today in the comments section.

Listen to this song while you think it through and then let us know- what are you thankful for today?

Restoration by David Brymer

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16 thoughts on “Look For the Joy

  1. Tricia Ander says:

    What a beautiful blog entry… 🙂
    1. My wonderful husband back home so we are all together as a family again. 2. A quiet rainy afternoon to just relax. 3. Green leaves on the trees again! ❤

  2. Mary Weisner says:

    1. I am thankful for Godly,encouraging, praying friends. 2. I am thankful for the Word. It never changes and is always true regardless of our circumstances. 3. Dark Chocolate. and a bonus one 4. For my loving aunt that I am named after, who turns 75 today!

  3. Lindsey Brooks says:

    1. The prayers of friends for me, my family, and my marriage.
    2. My job, which I love and allows me to immerse myself in something outside of my “real” world.
    3. Fountain soda.

  4. Tonnie says:

    One of the statements Ann wrote in her book that really touched me,especially since I was going through a deployment overseas and not everyday was an easy day, was when she was teaching her son how to manage his emotions and what she told him…you can only feel one emotion at a time and you can choose that emotion you can choose to be angry or you can choose to have joy. I choose joy…doesn’t mean life is easier or circumstances go away…just a different attitude in facing them. One of my life verses has been The Joy of the Lord is my Strength. There were times where I really relied on that strength because I didn’t have it in me.
    1. My son who thinks him being a better daddy than his daddy will be really hard…and what hearing that means to his daddy who has had to miss huge chucks of his life. 2. My children working together to help the other. 3. Sunny day driving and spending time as a family going to pick strawberries.
    Much love and peace to you dear friend. ❤

  5. jscarter102 says:

    1. My wife who grows more beautiful to me with each passing day.
    2. For the glorious chaos of our home.
    3. For the young people that have recently become a part of our “tribe.”

  6. Charlynn says:

    1. Family who knows what I need before I do.
    2. The ability to purchase the Oreos on top of the food necessities.
    3.Knowing that bad habits are not formed when you are only 9 weeks old and that sleep anyway you can get it is more important than where you actually sleep.

  7. Heather Byrum says:

    Thank you for inspiring me!!!! How soon we forget all the things God has given us to be thankful for!!!! I am thankful that I have been blessed with 2 handsome boys that I love with all my heart!!! And that God has lead me to a church that has brought me closer to His So!!! All the Glory be to God!!

  8. Lena aka Mom says:

    Beautifully written; realistically and biblically true; relevant and needed by all of us. Thank you. And now for my three JOY things today:

    1. my husband is free of cancer today
    2. i am happy to be able to putter in my garden even though i didn’t sleep well last night
    3. i’m glad the bear went in the opposite direction of dit dog and me this morning.

    Joy can be found. We must look for it, name it and give God thanks for it.

  9. Cynthia says:

    1. The inexplicable love I have for my family
    2. Friends who know just what to say
    3. Living close to an awesome park

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