Finding my joy
I have a confession to make. I lose things all the time. You know my type. I'm the lady who drives out of the restaurant parking lot with her take-out on the roof of the car. The one who leaves the windows open during thunderstorms. The one who needs three duplicate sets of keys hidden in rocks and crevices all over her property.
By now I've even lost track of how many things I've lost.
I'd like to blame it on the fact that I'm a mom to six children. Or to pretend it's the stress of home-schooling that causes my forgetfulness. Plus, I've got the added responsibilities that come with being a pastor's wife. All good reasons, don't you think? But the truth is, I was this way long before we married, started a family, entered the ministry or taught the first home-school lesson.
If you ran into me on the street, you'd never guess I'm so scatterbrained. I can do a pretty good imitation of competence. But chances are I'm probably standing there doing a figurative head scratch while I ask myself the question: What was I doing again?
See what I mean? Even my train of thought gets lost.
People like me need a strategy for coping with such forgetfulness, and I've developed an excellent one, if I do say so myself. It's very simple. I never panic when something goes missing and I never look for it. My theory, however unscientific, is that it will turn up the minute I stop searching for it.
Library books, driver's license, car keys, cell phone, birth certificate, wallet, plane tickets — you name it, I've lost it. I've also found every single item, because eventually this stuff resurfaced. Granted, sometimes it took as long as three years, but still. I found the things I lost. Every time. Without fail.
My theory worked like a charm.
Until the day it didn't. That was the day I lost something and couldn't find it again.
I lost my joy.
As usual, I waited a while for it to return. But as the weeks passed, I began to panic. I wondered how long it would be before I felt happy again. In place of light, there was darkness. Anxiety rooted in my heart where contentment used to live.
As the weeks turned into long months, I struggled to ignore the depression that was bearing down and smothering me. I knew it was one of those things women may experience after childbirth, but my baby was six months old. Exercise, sunshine, even a trip to my doctor wasn't helping my heavy heart. Given that I used to look forward to each new day, this change was a hard pill to swallow.
I tried to grit my teeth and power through until the fog lifted and the burden eased. After all, everyone has bad days now and then, right? In the meantime, I spent a lot of time sitting on the bathroom floor, leaning against the tub and crying while the bath water ran.
I had to do something.
So I did the one thing I'd never done before, and went out in search of what I'd lost.
I started by closing my eyes and praying for joy. Only then did I begin to see where it had been hiding. It was first spotted in the pages of my Bible. Then later, I found it in the rocking chair with my baby in my lap, and even more when I felt my toddler's arms around my neck.
The fog began to lift. After that, when I learned how to say no, the clouds cleared and the sun came out. I realized my older children didn't have to be in organized sports if it meant extra stress. My seven-year-old could learn Spanish in high school as opposed to the first grade. The house didn't have to be perfectly clean. I could let go of the smaller things to gain much greater things.