I got off the phone on a Sunday afternoon, my heart knotted with questions, jaw gripping for any kind of answer. She’d listened to me spill over the edges of 60 minutes, maybe longer, like so many times before. Her name wasn’t Joy but it does mean Pearl, Precious, Gem of the Sea and if you knew how many times she’d listened to me process, translation: talk and talk and talk and talk until I know what I think, you’d understand just how priceless she is to me.
This time she said something new though. You’re trying to figure this out Marcy and you need to let it go.
I diverted my attention from the meaning behind her words, felt my feet press to the floor bracing myself against the flash of what it might require of me. She was right.
The problem was I didn’t know where to start, how to release my grip and let the blood flow into my fingertips again.
Have you ever prayed about something for so long that you’ve run out of words or find there’s nothing more to say?
God says he already knows our hearts but he also wants us to ask and keep on asking. I think he means both of those things (which is why we need to quit interpreting him so much instead of choosing to believe the bible is more And than it is Or but that’s a completely different post). There comes a time in every challenge, when you have to loosen your grasp, open your hands completely, and lay that unfinished business down, throw it, if you have to, straight at God. From there, you believe that he will be all Bob Gregory from channel 13, here with an important weather advisory if there’s something you need to know, but until then, you carry on with regular life and stop trying to work it all out in your head.
It was the week before Christmas and I was holding tighter than a heart should to some things I’d run out of ways to fix. The expectation of a beautiful holiday couldn’t do a thing to lighten my load no matter how I’d tried to will it, I was miserable. The heaviness of what I could not control was like a chunk of coal wrapped in layers of tattered paper sitting on my heart and it was beginning to be unbearable.
After finishing my last client of the season, the wrestling I’d been doing in my mind for weeks, turned into an all-out brawl. I swept the hair, soaked the bottles and headed to the mailbox. Walking the twenty or so steps, and overwhelmed with the thought this weight crushing my hope for a glory-filled Christmas, as I began to open the mailbox, I knew I had a choice to make. Hold tightly to my misery while I demanded God answer me one way or another, or truly, once and for all, lay down every expectation, every possible scenario. Like Red quoting Andy in Shawshank Redemption, ‘get busy living’, or get busy dyin’, because that’s just how much this bloodshed was controlling may life. I won’t ever forget the gravity in that moment and the way I felt powerless to do what I knew I must.
What happened next is proof to me that when we find ourselves unable to do that thing we need to do and we’re out of emotional, physical, even spiritual resources, if we trust our Creator with the details of our lives (in the listening way, not the talking way) he will cause a chain of events set into motion months earlier to come together in one desperate moment we’re not sure we can survive, and change the volatile trajectory of a soul.
A couple of years ago, I swallowed the Coconut Oil and now have beautiful little bottles with aromatic liquid delivered once a month. In theory, I remember to change my order every month so I get the essential oils I actually need, but similar to my library motto a few years ago No More Fines in 2009, the real-life story is not-so-much.
In the fall, I began working with an incredible woman who helps other women give structure to their business and pursue dreams that won’t be hushed.
Standing at my mailbox on the 20th of December, in no way is it an overstatement to say that my life changed in a series of moments I couldn’t have imagined or planned, let alone orchestrated.
Along with your garden variety bills and a stack of sale flyers were two packages with my name on them. I didn’t know what they were and I hadn’t remembered ordering them.
I ripped open the first package to the cheerful branding of my new coach. Want to know he name? Natalie Joy.
Her company name? Defining Your Joy.
Natalie had sent me a planning calendar for the year to help keep me on track and while she’d previously sent several little packages with encouraging messages and treats, I wasn’t expecting a thing from her that day and was happy for mail that didn’t ask me for money.
I’d processed often through the fall with two friends and knew I needed to stop holding tightly to some long-dead dreams. I didn’t expect though that the result would come in the form of a choice. When I opened the second package, I suddenly knew, in the way that you effortlessly know how to breathe, not only that I had a choice to make, but also the name of my choice.
The previous month, I’d ordered some oils for my mom. As I started to open my Young Living package, I realized I’d forgotten to change my order. I had no recollection of what oils I’d ordered the month before. Massive amounts of white-hot shame that I’d forgotten another deadline.
When I opened the box, pulled out the protective cylinder, and shook the bottle into my hand, when I saw the gorgeous pink labeling in the same hue as the pink on the calendar I’d already opened, and when I turned over the oil and read the name, the last bit of emotion attached to the heaviness I’d been carrying for as long as I could remember streamed right out of my eyes.
The name of the oil was Joy.
For months, I’d been faced with decisions about my attitude and my atmosphere amid circumstances unlikely to change, and for months I couldn’t cross over making the decision to let go of deeply held bitterness and resentment, resulting in control and anger. But right there in my mailbox, God delivered some Christmas Joy in a way so unexpected, so personal, so beautiful, there was nothing left for me but to grab hold of it and believe.
I just about danced back into my home that afternoon as I felt the darkest blanket of hopelessness lift off my soul. Due to the Reese cups sitting on my hips, it was quite impossible, but I’m telling you I felt 10 pounds lighter. My world began to twinkle like the 900 lights on my tree. I played music and danced with my children and anticipated the entire holiday known and unknown, with a powerful sense of God’s presence. I’d felt the same thing many times before, I think the difference I felt then, and I still feel today, is that it had taken up permanent residence within me. There will circumstances for the rest of my life, that require me to choose a response of Joy. But on that day, Joy chose me in the most absolutely forever sort of way.
I’ve walked away from the computer countless times trying to capture words to tell you what kind of magical and supernatural celebration started to take place in my soul that afternoon. I wish I would have walked straight inside, sat down and written right then about the radical absence of anxiety and anger that had plagued me for years. But I didn’t, and life marches on to the drumbeat we execute and sometimes to the rhythm determined by someone else.
The truth is that since that day, I’ve had legions of opportunities to pick up that same anger and anxiety I threw off at my mailbox, and resume living life according to an old script. When circumstances have dictated feelings of hopelessness and deep disappointment, I’ve had to make a choice. Not a choice to gut it out, not the same sort of wrestling I’d been doing for years but a choice to simply remember. To take myself back to the side of the road where the most sacred peace washed over me in a forever sort of way. Because while there have been beautiful moments with my family, and the most lovely Christmas I can remember, there have also been bolts of lightening that lit up my world in abrupt and frightening ways, but let me tell you what I believe.
I believe that when we choose to look our Creator in the eye, dare to wrestle with the flesh he formed around us, and learn to know ourselves as we learn to know him, it’s then, that radical and abiding peace will cover our lives and begin to make us invisible to the enemy of our souls.
I believe then, that Joy chooses us.
When I realized the amount of Joy, both my friends and the state of being, that have been closing in on me for years, I knew that I had to share this story. I’d love to chat with you in the comments. Is there anything you want to talk about? Stories you’d like to share about a time when Joy chose you?