Monday, October 17, 2011

Reclaiming Joy

During our time of trying to have a child without success, I had some very sad days. When happiness escaped me, I began to adopt the notion of choosing joy.

For me, happiness is linked to external circumstances.  When positive things are happening in my life, I experience happiness.  I view joy quite differently.  I feel that joy comes from within.  It is not dependent on the circumstances in my life.  As a Christian, I believe the source of this joy is God.

When the darkness closes in, I can choose to dig deep within me to find joy.  Sometimes it's buried beneath my sadness, but when I choose to's always there.  That joy can glow in the corner of my heart, helping me hold on to hope.

A little less than two years ago, I remember coming home from a dear friend's house in tears.  I watched her darling child play on the carpet while she and I discussed the hopelessness I was feeling about ever conceiving a baby.  She prayed with me and encouraged me and loved me.  But when I got in the car to drive home, the doubts pinched at my heart and the tears began to flow.

But what's the plan, God?  What's the plan?
I'm lonely for a child.  I long to be a mother like so many of my friends.  
Do you even care?  Are you even listening?

I came home to our quiet, empty house.  I stood aimlessly in the kitchen as my sadness began to form into anger.

Should I throw something?
Should I yell?
I am so disappointed, God.

And that's when I realized I had a choice to make.  I could give myself over to the bitterness. 

Or I could choose joy.

Through a blur of tears, I began writing on the blank chalkboard hanging on our kitchen wall.  I wrote three words...

"I am blessed"

I chose joy.  I chose to love my husband more than ever before.  I chose to love the children in my life until God blessed me with my own.  I chose to be grateful for our home and our jobs and our families.  I chose to hope.

The day we left that doctor's office with the devastating news of William's condition, I felt as if the glow of joy within my heart had finally gone out.  I felt as if I were in some sort of terrible game, and I was losing.

I tried, God. 
I can't do it anymore.
Losing this baby will break me beyond repair.

For several days, when I looked at the chalkboard my eyes would narrow in bitterness.

I am not blessed...I am destroyed

And then I began to feel the familiar longing to dig beneath the sadness for joy.
And do you know what?

I still couldn't find it.

A few days later I would dig again.  Through my pain and weeping, I kept digging.

And slowly...I began to find it again.

I decided to reclaim joy. 

It's a choice I have to make every single day.  Some days I'm successful and other days I'm not.  But I know that God has placed a joy in my heart that cannot be stolen, despite my circumstances.

Today was a particularly low day for me.  The joy was hard to find...but it's still there.

As I write this, William is wiggling inside of me.  So I choose joy.
Our friends and family continue to love us, pray for us, support us.  So I choose joy.
William has been a part of our family for 22 weeks and 2 days.  So I choose joy.
God has made me a mother.  So I choose joy.

As I sit in our family room, I can see the chalkboard hanging in our kitchen.  I've never erased it.  It reminds me that I made a choice that day.  It reminds me to recognize the blessings in my life.

Most importantly, it reminds me to choose joy.


  1. This matches perfectly with the quote I had on my hospital room white board when I delivered my own "William", my Trista Joy. I wish I knew where I got it, or who wrote it, but I have no doubt that God gave it to me.

    The joy of the Lord is not dictated by circumstance. It runs deeper than pain or pleasure in the believer’s life. For this reason, even in disappointment and sorrow, we can rejoice in the Lord.

    Praying the Joy in the Lord remains yours, in full...regardless of the circumstances

  2. Wow. It is amazing to see the beautiful work you are allowing Him to create in you through this deep, dark valley. I am so grateful for your sake, that you are choosing joy..and that you are also sharing those choices,and the struggles behind them, with the rest of us.
    Love to you this morning,