Has something ever stolen your joy?
A few weeks ago I woke up unable to move my shoulder. Actually I could move it, but when I did, an electrical current shot through my toes. So I decided not to move it.
I guess it means I’m not as young as I once was when I sleep wrong and separate my shoulder! Literally. That’s what happened.
For two weeks I couldn’t put deodorant on, turn on the light switch, sleep, put my socks on, hug my kids, push a grocery cart or type at the computer unless I had a hundred pillows bunched up in a certain way.
Ok maybe not 100 pillows. But it was honestly one of the most painful things I’ve ever gone through – above having 3 C-sections.
I wanted to put my arm in a sling to keep it still all day, but the chiropractor who adjusted my shoulder back in place told me I had to keep it moving. He said Don’t keep it still! All the muscles and tendons were in protection mode and basically signaling to my brain Nobody move! I had to override that impulse and stretch those muscles and tendons out.
OHH it hurt so bad! But three times a day I would stand by the wall and walk my arm up and down and side to side. It cracked and hurt, but gradually I could go higher and faster and in other directions on my own strength.
With my newly forced down time, I started thinking about joy. Maybe it was from watching Inside Out, but I too felt like I had lost my joy.
Where does joy come from and how can I have it during painful circumstances?
If joy was based on circumstances, it would evaporate like water in a humidifier when those circumstances changed.
Deep seeded joy doesn’t mean I’m happy about what’s going on. It’s a positional standing of regardless what happens, I am loved by God. He is for me. He hasn’t forgotten me. My sins are forgiven and I am His!
I know this, but living it takes work.
The same day my shoulder went out of whack, a lightening storm hit near our house and fried our internet line, causing it to go down for 2 days. The day that was fixed, I drove home from Wal-Mart, only to park in the carport and find something broke in my van and all the oil dumped onto the concrete.
All I could think was, really?! I’m supposed to find joy in this?
That’s when I’m glad I have children because my youngest son decided to start counting blessings instead of dwelling on hardships. Doesn’t he rock!
So instead of whining, we chose to be thankful my van broke 2 miles from home rather than on the way to Arkansas. We were thankful that the motor didn’t burn up. We thanked God that even though the lightening zapped our internet, we still had a land line phone, we had games to play rather than watch the movie we were in the middle of, and we could go to the office if we needed internet access.
One morning during all this, I was praying and writing in my journal about how frustrated I was. And I felt this question in my spirit: Is there anything wrong with your fingers? Your mind? Can you still think?
I thought, No Lord, there’s nothing wrong with my fingers and yes, I can still think.
And I realized, yes, a lot of frustrating things have happened. But they don’t have to steal my inward joy. As someone who loves to write – I can still do that! Even if I can’t get online to post it, or have to prop my arm up with 100 pillows to be comfortable, I can still do what I love. What I enjoy.
Sometimes choosing to be joyful feels like retraining your separated shoulder to move. Everything within you screams to be grumpy and negative, but internally you know you can’t stay there.
You have to fight to be joyful and even commit 3 times a day to focus on the positive, like doing wall walks. It’s hard and it hurts. But just like the wall walks helped my shoulder regain mobility, remembering who God has saved me from and that His love never fails helped me find joy even in the midst of painful circumstances.
And joy rooted in that, can’t be stolen!
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
~ 1 Thes 5:1-16-18