Choose JOY

To be CONTENT is a choice. Being satisfied with what I have is an attitude. While raising my children, I have encouraged them not to be “part of the problem, but to be part of the solution, to react slowly after thinking through responses, when in doubt say nothing at all, and to practice self-control”. But what about contentment? You can hold it all in, guard your tongue, hide your true feelings from the world, but how do you feel content? Contentment comes from within your soul, the very core. How do you fix that? How do you feel JOY even when everything around you seems to be going haywire?

A coworker and friend of mine talked to me one day about GRIT. She wondered if some people lack the shear determination to stick with a difficult task. I’ve thought a lot about that. You need the stamina or drive to push through challenging classes, stubborn children, running a household, building your credit, improving your GPA, and getting to your goal weight. Over and over again, I see people start something gung-ho and lose stamina and the drive because they lack GRIT. When it gets hard, they give up.

I have seen it in marriages, time and time again. When things get hard, people throw up their hands, wave the white flag, and cry uncle. Marriage is hard. Two very individual people, raised in two very different ways are thrown together to now make single decisions. Early in our marriage, I told my husband that if we came to a stalemate that he would break the tie. Someone needs to. However, I told him that I expected him to hear me out and then make the best decision that he could make for our family. I’ll admit, some of them were failures and I told him so. However, we both stood firm, went down with the ship, and rebuilt together having learned some valuable lessons. Did I say that marriage is hard? There were times when I could have walked away, and had every right to. But I didn’t. A promise is a promise, and I have been determined to stay with him until “death do we part”, even through the tough stuff. GRIT.

IT SEEMS LIKE SOME PEOPLE HAVE IT A WHOLE LOT EASIER THAN I DO AND THAT IS JUST NOT FAIR. It is true, and sometimes I have mini temper tantrums in my head because of it. After I’m done, I choose contentment. I choose to be content in my circumstances because “It is, what it is.” I have every right to be angry and every right to feel cheated, but I refuse to allow it. I choose JOY. I choose to find the blessings.

A huge “ah ha” for me this year is that we all have things that we are battling: sick and aging parents, challenges with work, marriages, child rearing, and community issues. We are now facing a very unsettling political race. We have plenty of reasons to feel upset. We have to work hard to find the blessings, even the most minuscule.

I’ve spent the weekend organizing my youngest daughter, teaching her to budget, to plan her finances carefully, and showing her how to rebuild credit. She was overwhelmed and there were tears. Life is not easy and to use Mom’s words, “God never promised you a rose garden.” He just promised that he would never leave us and that he uses all things for good to those who love him and follow him. I rest in that.

The best advice that I can give is to not give up. Keep focusing on the good. At one point, I kept a notebook that I wrote 2 blessings in every day in. Then I thanked God for them out loud. I’ll admit, that sometimes I cried through it. When my son was at his naughtiest, I envisioned laying him at Jesus’s feet, or holding him up to God. I prayed that His angels would surround him and keep him protected when I couldn’t. It was hard, and I have a tear-stained, wrinkled bible that proves that I never gave up on him.

As my oldest daughter dreams of traveling and moving away from her home to explore new lands and to stretch her wings, I am reminded that our children are on loan. Our job is to make them independent and to allow them to leave and to soar, so that one day they can become the leaders of their own homes. I never ever want to hold them back.

As life becomes more and more challenging on the home front, I will continue to look toward the heavens, and praise the one who made me. I will thank him through the tough days, for the blessings of being a wife and mother. I will continue to be the best coworker I can be, and to tend to my aging parents to the best of my ability. I will find JOY in my circumstances and love my husband until his last breath.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, and I don’t have to worry about that just yet. I’ll just worry about today, and do my best to prepare for tomorrow. The hardships that I have endured have made me the strong independent woman that I am today, and will mold me into an example for my children and friends. I refuse to allow any of this to be a waste and to always give glory to my Maker, who stands by me through it all.

In the end, I want my children to develop GRIT by watching their mother, and to know and understand fully that they need to constantly be searching for JOY in everything, and that CONTENTMENT is a choice.



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