Wow, it’s been so long since I have sat down to write on this blog. Life has been crazy! We are finally settled and moved into our home in Arizona, although we are still waiting on Kevin. He is finishing out his contract with his current job and also looking for a job here. I have to say I love blogging, writing, ranting…. whatever you want to call it. It is like therapy for me and boy have I needed a good therapy session since moving here.
After going over in my mind all we have gone through since we arrived in late December, it got me thinking about a Bible study I did a couple of summers ago, it was written and taught by Kay Warren of Saddleback Church. (My old church) The study was Choose Joy and it was all about not allowing your circumstances determine the amount of joy in your life. I did the study and loved it, however I never “got it” until now.
Up until now my circumstances have been great….. great place to live, great friends, great school for my kids, great life. Things have been a little different since I moved to Arizona. Let me tell you about some of the things that happened right when I got here. I find out my street has some interesting people living on it, not just one interesting family, but three. In all fairness I am sure every street has some “fun-story” type of people on it but I happened to hear about it all at once and coming from my little Orange County bubble it opened my eyes a bit. Then after finally finding a church I fell in love with, we walk into service to find the Board Members on stage announcing the resignation of the lead Pastor for having multiple extra martial affairs. Oh it gets better, hold on…. My husband finally had to leave to go back to his job in California and left me alone with the 5 kids! On the first day of school my 5 year old gets lost after school and for over 20 minutes no one can find him anywhere. Everyone from parents to staff searches high and low for him, I called the police and got on my knees and then begged God to bring him home safe. (I still had not had a heart attack, yay me!!). Then the worst things happened….they all got the sick…. not just sniff, sniff or cough, cough I mean SICK all 5 overlapping days and to make it even crazier just an hour ago I got a phone call from the school to come and pick up my 8 year old because he had a 102 fever, so its not over yet!!
These are not problems, a real problem would be finding out something terrible happened to my husband in California or that one of my kids may have cancer. No, these are circumstances that, if I allowed, could steal my joy. If I were talking to you on the phone and I said “I’m lonely without my husband and friends” or “I am fearful of the impact some of the neighbors might have on my family” or “I’m so sad the church I loved is having such issues, I really need a strong church”, or how about if I said ” I am so angry with my sons school for losing him, the teacher should never have let him leave her side!” or “I am overwhelmed with having 5 sick kids at home, they are taking everything out of me, I just can’t do this alone anymore”. If we had this conversation I am confident my feelings would be validated by the circumstances I had been dealing with. If I allowed these feelings to creep in depression would be waiting at the other side of the door and if it had not walked in already, it would be really close. I can see how fast someone can get depressed and have valid reasons in doing so, can’t you?
Stop here with me a moment and lets just look at the other side. what if…. When I heard about my interesting neighbors I looked at it as an opportunity to extend grace to them and grow in not judging others? What if when I found out about the Pastor I paid more attention to how the church handled the situation and felt Blessed to be a part of a church that does not cover things up and move on? What if, when my 5 year old was lost and my heart was pounding out of my chest and I thought I was going to puke on myself right then and there, I had a grateful heart that he was found safe and sound instead of looking to point blame and get someone fired? What if, after a weeks worth of no sleep, bags under my eyes and too much disinfecting to do to even think about, I looked up to my God and thanked him that it was only the flu, that it would soon be over and my healthy kids would be back soon. See, in this example the circumstances did not dictate how I felt, I DID! I am in control of choosing joy or not and you are too.
In her book Choose Joy, Kay Warren writes, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life; the quiet confidence that ultimately everything his going to be all right; and the determined choice to praise God in all things“. Take a minute and re-read that quote, really let it sink in. Now let’s goto the words our Heavenly Father left for us, you can find them in James 1:2-4 “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way“.
Please do not misunderstand me in anyway. I do not think we should be happy about bad circumstances, not at all, but I will say we have a choice. The choice is this, dwell on what is bad or be thankful and joyful for what is right. The choice is yours, Choose Joy won’t you?