Hoping to share the love, joy, and grace I have received in my own life.

Choosing Joy

on January 19, 2016

I have received many gifts as a result of my grief.  Most of those gifts are lessons I have learned as a result of being in the very bottom pit of deep dark despair.  I have made several lists of all those lessons.  Perhaps the two most important lessons I have learned since Trevor’s death are understanding that God never leaves me and that sometimes I have to dig down deep, but whenever possible, choosing joy is the best option.

Don’t get me wrong. Things happen in our lives where choosing joy isn’t an option. When our son died, I thought neither Jeff or I would ever feel true joy again. I have learned that in those most desperate moments is when I need to turn to God. Knowing He is there and will never give up on me, no matter how I may give up on Him, gets me through the valleys of grief that I still experience. In 99% of my daily circumstances though, I can choose joy above everything else. Perhaps it is because I have experienced such excruciating heartache that I don’t want to let anything else bring me down.

My grief is like a heavy backpack that I carry with me in every waking moment. (Thankfully in the past several months if I dream of Trevor as I sleep, the dreams are full of love and light and happiness as opposed to the nightmares in the past.) Sometimes the backpack is light…almost empty. Sometimes though, the backpack is loaded with bricks. I started realizing when I was carrying the heaviest loads that I couldn’t tolerate any arguments, any bad attitudes, any other negativity. You see, that backpack was so heavy that no other brick burdens could be placed in it or the backpack would rip and I, along with all those bricks, would be dragged down the grief mountain I was climbing.

I understand that there are times that joy cannot be the choice, but honestly believe those times happen very few and far between in our lives. I think of times when I used to get upset over things that now seem like no big deal…the person in the car in front of me driving 40 mph on a beautiful day on a perfect highway or the food I ordered at a restaurant being served less than warm or overcooked.  Even things as mundane as scrubbing our toilet or putting away groceries or laundry are times that I now am able to not only choose joy, but focus on it.

My life is like the perfect cup of tea. If a little gritty salt gets poured into it, I can choose to stir it up into my everyday circumstances or I can ask God to scoop the salt from my life. Part of living with joy is choosing to endure unpleasantness as a sacrifice to praise God. That slow car in front of me? I choose to turn up my radio and sing a little louder. The not so great food before me at a restaurant? I thank God that we are able to afford a meal out.

Am I always joyful? No, but I am a work in progress. God isn’t finished with me yet.  I am now focused on making every possible attempt to choose joy in my life. I am thankful for all I have and for a God who is there continually to help carry that heavy backpack.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. ~Matthew 5:16



One response to “Choosing Joy

  1. Kathy Thomas says:

    Another inspirational writing.

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