Choosing Joy Revisited

Fun Fact: I have believed for many years now that May is the middle of the year. I told D the other day- can you believe we are already halfway through 2016? His reply: “You know that July 1st is technically the halfway mark, right?” And then we both burst into laughter…

Either way, I cannot believe it is May! Like usual, time flies.

I have been wanting to write for awhile. It has been since February. But, I simply did not know what to write about. Truthfully, this has been a hard few months. There have been a lot of changes in our lives. Moving has brought up a gamut of issues I thought I had under “control.” Anxiety and perfectionism have once again reared their ugly heads. While I’m grateful to wrestle with these things yet again because I know it means the Lord is still healing things in me, the depths of the struggles have been deeper than they have ever been.

One week in particular, the darkness seemed to persist. I had anxiety in ways I have not experienced before. My face literally turned numb. When we went to have it evaluated, their diagnosis was stress and anxiety. My body was physically displaying issues that were going on internally. After doing some research and talking to a family Dr, he told us that yes, this did sound like stress and that Vitamin B levels dropping could also contribute to this. He recommended some supplements which I took faithfully (thanks to my family and D reminding me!) and the weight has slowly begun to be lifted.

First, let me say- if you struggle with anxiety, I am so sorry. Truly. It is exhausting in every way. It is hard for others to understand you. It is painful to push through when you have a family to take care of when all you want to do is crawl in bed and sleep. It is frustrating when you do everything you can think of to help ease it and nothing seems to help. As I fought through these moments, I prayed for you. For those that struggle with anxiety and want rest and joy and hope.

Second, through all of this I have been processing many, many things. What does self-love look like? Self-care? I knew that through the trial, I NEEDED to choose joy. I’m not even saying that in a cliche way because its the name of my blog. I knew that the Lord is ALWAYS good. I know that my life is FULL of things to be joyful about.

In a book I’m reading, the Gifts of Imperfection, she quotes another book, The Soul of Money. In this book, she addresses the myth of scarcity.  A concept I have never thought about before but have been consistently thinking on since reading this quote:

“For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of…We don’t have exercise. We don’t have enough work. We don’t have enough profits. We don’t have enough power. We don’t have enough wilderness. We don’t have enough weekends. Of course, we don’t have enough money-ever…Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds race with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by these thoughts and wake up to the reverie of lack…What begins as a simple expression of the hurried life, or even the challenged life, grows into the great justification for an unfulfilled life.”

Whoa. This mindset was driving a TON of my anxiety. Truthfully, our circumstances have been trying. There have been things out of our control that have wounded me and D. Other things, however, were driven by this “not enough”mindset. Not enough order. Not enough time. Not enough money. Not enough sleep. So, what does this author suggest?

“We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mindset of scarcity. Once we let go…we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. Sufficiency resides inside of each of us, and we can call it forward. It is a consciousness, an attention, an intentional choosing of the way we think about our circumstances.”

After discussing this concept, the author of the Gifts of Imperfection, delves into how gratitude translates into joy. It is a real, studied concept. She does not tell us to negate what is actually going on. She talks about being real with ourselves and our emotions, but then meeting that with gratitude, allowing this to turn ordinary moments into moments of joy. So, this is what I have been doing. Working to speak out loud (I’ve tried to make lists, but with three children, by the time I get to the pen and paper…it just doesn’t happen) things I am grateful for.

This week:

  • I am deeply grateful for the community of women that surround me. For the encouraging texts of “I’m praying for you!” to checking in on me to watching my children so I can have room to breathe to bringing me meals even when I hesitate to accept to long hugs because you know I need one. Thank you, friends, for loving me well.
  • My sweet, gracious husband. I know at times these past few weeks, he has felt lost, not knowing what I needed. But he fought to love me even when it was not easy. Then, he set up a lunch with a couple we really look up to, knowing that we needed to process with others, and they spoke life into us in ways we did not even know we needed. Which parlays into my next one…
  • Couples that we can turn to and they will speak truth about our situation all while encouraging and praying for us.
  • My sweet, sweet children. They are so gracious with me and bring joy in ways I did not even know they could. They are the epitome of joy- finding pleasures in the ordinary simplicity of life.
  • The Lord’s faithfulness to show me and to teach me and to heal me.

Lastly, if you are still reading, here is what I’ve been clinging to and praying over our family. I hope it can be of encouragement to you as well.

Psalm 2:12: Blessed are those who take refuge in Him.

Luke 1:49: “For He who is Mighty has done GREAT things for me and holy is his name.” 

He HAS and will do great things, and when I can’t see that, I pray I would take refuge in Him, CHOOSING JOY and thankfulness for what is right in front of me.

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