I choose Joy. Can I?

I work at an independent school in the Lower Mainland. Part of what we have been encouraged to do is to choose a “storyline” for our classrooms, or for those of us in administration, a storyline for our work. A Storyline is a way of considering the big idea that ties us back to what is important – that reminds us of why we do what we do.

A dear friend and colleague picked the storyline “I Choose Joy” as his storyline for this past school year.

Easy for him. A young man, who has recently been promoted to principal, who has a beautiful wife and an even more beautiful family. I dare say that things are running smoothly (read easy) for him. Of course, it’s easy to choose joy then.

So instead of talking to him, I rallied against it. How could I not?

In October of 2000, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. In 2009, with type I diabetes. Last summer my 75 year-young dad was diagnosed with stage IV cancer on July 3. He died July 31.

How can you choose joy when all you feel is sadness and grief? When something has been taken away way too soon and way too quickly, and there are still so many things you want to do with your dad? How can you choose joy when your body lets you down on so many occasions? Where is the joy when your mom is lonely? How are you supposed to choose joy? God allows us sadness, no?

Then Easter happened. A challenge by Alastair Sterne to continue to celebrate Easter, not just on Easter, but for 50 days afterward.

I needed this challenge. So for 50 continuous days, I posted moments of joy in my daily life. Some days joy was easy to choose. Some days were much, much harder. I posted about the hummingbirds at my feeder, our new sectional that now has room for all of us to sit on, pictures of my daughter and her volleyball team winning provincials, a much-needed night out with my husband, my daughters hanging out and getting along (or not getting along) and throughout it all I realized is that there are moments of joy in each and every day. Not that every day is joyous; yet, each day provides some moment of joy.

50 days of choosing JOY, of celebrating Eastertide, of joyfully celebrating the resurrection, reminded me that joy is found in the daily.

The anniversary of my dad’s death has just recently passed, and with that has come a lot of time to sit and think. As I reflect on my dad’s last month on his earthly home, I can’t help but be reminded that “choosing joy” is exactly how he lived his last days. Even though in pain, and bedridden, my dad chose to find joy.

He fully trusted in Jesus, and even when delivered the bad news of cancer that was incurable, he thanked the doctor with a handshake, and told him that “I trust in the Lord”. My dad found joy in the resurrection. And it showed when he smiled and enjoyed as he drank a couple of sips of Tim Horton’s coffee, some Greek yogurt, a hug from one of us, or just being with us.

Throughout all of this, I was reminded that “the things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. They are moments when we touch one another, when we are there in the most attentive or caring way. This simple and profound intimacy is the love we all long for.” (Jack Kornfield)

50 days of choosing JOY, of celebrating Eastertide, of joyfully celebrating the resurrection, reminded me that joy is found in the daily. In the little things. In the people in my life. In the beauty that surrounds me. Life can be hard and yet there are so many moments of joy.

Can I challenge you to see if you can find 50 moments of joy in your life for the next 50 days? Let’s remind ourselves that joy can be found in our daily routine, but more importantly that Jesus died and rose and has provided JOY in our lives.

St. Peter's Fireside