Joy: the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying
The last few years, anxiety has become a constant in my life. The doctors speculate that this is partly due to the stressors in my life, the synthetic thyroid hormones I take to replace my missing thyroid, and my fine family history of anxiety and OCD.
I am better now. The kind of better that helps you see how bad it really was and for how long.
In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown nails my anxiety on the head. She calls it foreboding joy. Every time something wonderful happens, or a moment of deep satisfaction or gratitude, it is followed by a sense of dread. What will happen to balance this? When will the other shoe drop?
I lived in fear and didn’t realize it. I felt joy, but then the forebodings crept in and my fear made me feel out of control. I got angry and demanded order. Once everything was in its place, I felt some sense of control again.
On birthdays. Anniversaries. Vacations. Holidays. As you can imagine, this was very fun for my family.
I’m tired of fear winning out. The constant tension between enjoying my life, and being scared to lose it. Trying to control everything so we are predictable, quiet, safe. This cannot be my best life.
A month ago I asked myself a question: Can I choose joy? Is it that simple?
I made myself get inside my fears. I have never done that, because of my superstition that if we say things out loud, we call them to our lives. Now I realize that if I let them lurk in the corners, they are always threatening me.
Then I had to face down what I really believe about how God loves me. I have issues with Christians who camp out in the Old Testament, as if Jesus never made a new covenant through his life and death. But I did that, too. Fearing the vengeful God of the Hebrews, the God of Job. I can’t just say that I accept God’s love for me. I have to do it. And I have to know that God loves Shea and my three babies even more than I do.
And I have to live Here. Shea and I like to dream—five years from now, ten years from now. But I always take it a step further and start planning. Planning for ten years from now. And the planning causes me anxiety, because there are so many variables and I can’t plan for all of them. Then I worry about things that have not happened, and probably won’t.
This steals my joy. I do it to myself.
So enough. Enough planning, enough anxiety, enough fear.
I think we can make this choice. I think we can say that fear doesn’t win. Even if the last few years have been hard. Even if there is sickness, or failure, or betrayal. The fear costs us too much. It costs us sleep and health and relationships. It costs us opportunity. It costs us love. What are we doing?
I say, let’s be brave. Let’s choose joy. Let’s choose to be joyful Here.
I don’t think it’s easy, but I know we can do it. We can choose joy. And when we do, joy wins.