Choosing the Joy

"consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.." James 1:2

A couple of weeks ago Erik and I were asked to go speak with a new family who's 11 year old son was diagnosed with brain cancer.  It was such a raw, emotional experience.

We've spoken with several families and made friends with more over the past few years who were walking down the same path as us.  But there was something different about this family.  Something between us fused a relationship on a much deeper level than what should have been likely.  It was a level of intimacy that only a cancer family can share.  We laughed, we cried, we talked and then cried some more.

It was a surreal night and when we left after 2 hours, I was so sick.  I had a migraine, I was nauseated and all I wanted to do was sleep.  I had no clue that reliving such memories would make me so ill.  I'm so thankful for the friends we made and I'm so thankful for the opportunity I had to face some of my worst memories.  It was like looking a monster in the face.

One thing I talked to my new friend about was allowing herself to find joy in each day.  Let me tell you, walking the halls of a cancer hospital with a dying child is pure hell.  Seriously, pure hell.  BUT, joy is there.  You have to look. You have to make a choice.  You have to choose joy.

And can I tell you what that joy is like?  The joy you can find, the joy I have found, during our darkest days is the joy that is with me now.  It's God's way of whispering "you can do this.  I will give you what it takes to make it through the hour, and I will reward you with a memory that you will cherish forever. "  Isn't it amazing how God chooses to bless us in the most unlikely ways and during the most unlikely times?  But you have to be aware.  You have to choose the joy.

My new friend, her 11 year old son and their family have a very hard fight ahead of them.  I believe in miracles and our new little friend Mason is a strong fighter.  When I talk to her, which is almost every day, I pray over our conversation.  I pray that something, one thing, will encourage her.  That God would speak through me to help her find her joy in that moment.

Life is so temporal.  So many of us run through life passing quickly through the minutes in search of the hour.  We let the opportunity to live in a moment slip by us while we search out the grander event.  How do we not realize that life is chock full of "moments"?  Many us only experience those truly grand events a few times in our lifetime, if we are lucky!  Just think of all the memories, smiles, laughs and tears we can miss if we aren't careful.  

For so long I was forced to live in a world where day by day was all I possibly had with my daughter.  I was given a choice.  I could have allowed myself to get lost in sorrow and miss the sweet moments with Lucy that presented themselves every single or I could choose joy.  I can honestly say there wasn't a day that went by that I didn't find something to be thankful for.  There was always one thing I  could smile about at the end of every day.  And you know what, there still is.

Today was hard.  A discouraging report from Lucy's teacher could have easily sabotage my attitude.  Instead, I am choosing to go to sleep thinking about how amazing, simply miraculous, it was watching Lucy practice with the school golf team.  Who would have ever thought this would be possible?

I don't know what trial you are facing right now.  I have no idea what monster you will fight tomorrow.  I just want to encourage you to seek out joy.  It's there, I promise.  You just have to make up your mind to find it.

"Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously..." James 1:3-5