Are You Stealing Your Own Joy?

It was a gorgeous fall day with just a hint of the coolness to come. The sun was about to set and it was the perfect time for a walk around the neighborhood lake.

The sun painted shades of cantaloupe and cotton candy across a canvas of clouds. A flock of red-winged black birds flew overhead and all I could think was, God, I feel so alive! Before I could draw my next breath another thought struck. I wondered what hardship was around the corner that would knock the wind out of me.

In an instant my joy moment was gone. It made me so mad I wanted to swear. And maybe I did let a relatively innocuous expletive slip through my lips.

I hate it when I do this!

I miss out on the glory of one moment wondering what event might steal from me in the next. And I rob myself of lingering joy.

I didn’t know what to call this thing I do until Brene Brown defined it for me. (She has a way of doing that.) In her book Daring Greatly, she describes “foreboding joy” as approaching joy with the sense that surely this won’t last long and thinking if I don’t give myself completely over to the joy of this moment, then the inevitable difficulty won’t cause quite as much pain.

As someone who is familiar with the slap and sting of sudden pain, I suppose I employ this tactic as a means preparation and self-protection.

But I really don’t want to live this way. I want to live each day and feel each moment completely, don’t you?

I had an opportunity to practice a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to go for a walk but didn’t want to go alone so I extended an invitation to the whole household. My dear boy accepted. He rode his bike beside me on the way out. On the way home, when he stopped to check out the erosion taking place on the shores of our lake, I climbed on his bike. He ran to catch up and jumped on the rear wheel pegs. For a few precious moments, I pedaled while he stood over me with his hands on my shoulders. I leaned back to feel the warmth of his nearness. We talked and I soaked it in to the depths of my soul. I felt the joy completely and time stood still….until we hit a patch of slick, algae-infused mud and the bike slide out from under us. I scraped my knee and hit my cheek on the sidewalk. Bummer.

I was determined not to let this accident overshadow the joy of being with my son. I hugged him and told him how grateful I was for our time together no matter how many Band-Aids we’d need to patch up our wounds.

There are bumps on the road of life and the road-rash takes a while to heal. But I refuse to be consumed with the cautious apprehension of “what’s next”. When life happens, I’ll get back up. If I can’t get myself back up, I have friends who will help me. When the world slips right out from under me, I have a Savior who will carry me.

Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever. Psalm 28:9 NIV

Life is sprinkled with both joy and pain but if we allow the fear of future pain to dull our delight we miss out on the fullness of joy in the moment.

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Style Speaks is an annual fashion and faith interactive event where women gather to be equipped and empowered to be who they are created to be. This year, we are renovating! You will be refreshed, renewed and restored from the inside out. Style Speaks will inspire you to pursue your God-given purpose and leave a legacy for generations to come.