Franklin Covey suggests we begin with the end in mind. Will you ‘C’ your way through school or ace your way out? Will wrong relationships lead to a forgotten purpose? Will dreams be abandoned because life got in the way? Is the goal to simply get through life or to leave a legacy?
The Pursuit of Happiness
We spend the majority of our early adult years looking for happiness. Sometimes, our search begins with innocent and healthy intentions; other times our quest takes unexpected turns toward corks, pills, lighters and maybe even needles. Regardless, we always find ourselves back on the crooked path because happiness is fleeting. We’re happy for a day, a week…a month and then BOOM! Just like that we’re robbed and left for dead on the corner of happiness and sorta kinda.
We’re on an endless Odyssey and reaching Homer status because the pursuit of happiness, on some level, is ridiculous. We’re challenged to turn the frown upside down, and so often, we inherently rely upon outside factors to make us happy, illicit the feelings of happiness or at least masquerade as them. There again lies the point: happiness is fleeting. So, what of those who aren't impressed with the idea of a modern day Odyssey or are tired of this never ending story? Answer: Go where the joy is.
Joy is Poles Apart
According to braincomer.com, joy is something entirely different from happiness. Joy, in the Biblical context, is not an emotion. Joy is attitude of the heart. It is not necessarily based on something positive happening. It is something that lasts; happiness is something that is temporary. When happiness fades away, joy remains. It is something that is bigger than our current circumstances. Joy brings us peace in the middle of a storm.
What type of women would we be if life were a breeze? How would we and how could we inspire our constituents or our successors if all things amazing were handed to us? Why would anyone take us seriously if we just woke up and realized every dream we ever had?
Tyler Perry shared some of his harsh, tough life experiences and the pain and sweat it took to realize his dreams during his The Black List documentary which aired on HBO in 2008. During his segment, surprisingly and almost defiant, he declared he felt sorry for people who had never gone through anything. I nodded my head passionately and pointed at the television. “You got it”, I bellowed at the screen. His statement had struck a chord.
We’re on Storm Watch
Storms are a common occurrence as long as we have breath in our body. The weather of life is like San Francisco, which means we need a dress, pants, a jacket and an umbrella and maybe some cute rain boots. Life’s weather isn't predictable and the meteorologist is seriously overpaid. We all watch the news as the weatherman licks his index finger and takes a wild guess. At least it seems that way. If storms are unpredictable, how do we ‘plan’ to navigate such tumultuous conditions?
1. Believe in something bigger than ourselves. Once we realize there are greater powers at play, we give ourselves permission to accept the unknown reasons behind the season. If we knew everything in advance, we might check out and snatch the ‘Get to heaven free pass’. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
2. Put our circumstances into Productive Perspective. Have we learned something? If we are in the process of learning or we already learned, it wasn't a waste of time. This is often the area where we beat ourselves up most—feeling like we could have been using our talents elsewhere (whether professional or personal). Essentially our experience was a growing pain. Although unpleasant it helped us build our character. Life is a beautifully complicated collection of decisions, risks and experiences.
Psalm 30: 4-5 says, “You who are faithful to the Lord, sing praises to him; give thanks to his holy name. His anger lasts for only a second, but his favor lasts a lifetime. Weeping may stay all night, but by morning, joy!”
Joy is an experience that can sustain us through the difficult, brutal and hard hitting moments of our lives. I traipsed through the unknown for weeks and weeks not so long ago. My circumstances seemed endless. At times, my situation seemed impossible to resolve; yet, I rejoiced. I made up my mind that I would find the good in awaking with breath every morning. Sixty days later, I had officially failed forward and bounced back with grace and class. I can’t honestly say I didn’t engage in the ugly cry with the snot dripping out of my nose. But, I can say putting things in productive perspective revealed the bigger picture. This allowed me to move forward while leaving the past exactly where it belongs…behind me.
The past doesn't dictate how the future will be, it’s just a training ground that quickly fades away never to return as long as we pass our test and walk forward with the intended skills, abilities or knowledge with our character intact. Strength is a woman’s ability to endure while maintaining the lightness of her character. Hindsight will forever be 20/20. Even still, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. In doing so, we will go where the joy is. There’s a mixed bag of emotions that are always readily accessible, but when we invoke an attitude of gratitude it is easier to go where the joy is-- no matter the circumstances. Sometimes we have to look further than what our eyes can see and use a telescopic view to challenge this experience we call life and take back the power to choose. After all, we are the masters of our reaction.
How will you re-master your ability to go where the joy is? Leave a comment below.