Welcome back to our 31 Days of Grace for Pastor’s Wives!
Life at the Howard cottage has been just a wee bit
insane busy lately, but I’m back today with another “grace” post for my fellow minister’s wives… and anyone else who has ever struggled to choose joy in the midst of a less-than-perfect life.
Blame it on my melancholy personality, my perfectionist nature, my parents, my next door neighbors, my dog… cast the blame wherever you wish, but the fact remains:
Joy has never come easily for me.
I used to believe that joy was the prize I would discover when I finally arrived at my greatest destination in life-
Over the years, “perfection” and “joy” have been attached to many different if only’s.
If only an amazing man would love me and want to marry me, I would be happy.
If only I could be a wife and mother, with beautiful, healthy babies… life would seem just about perfect.
If only I could have a really comfortable, nice home, instead of always living in a fixer-upper… or a parsonage!
If only I could convince my husband that he needs to change… he really is the one making me feel so unhappy.
If only our church would grow and we had more workers. I feel so overwhelmed with juggling ministry and motherhood!
If only we could make enough money to live a little more comfortably. It’s hard to be happy when finances are always tight.
If only we lived closer to my family and had a little help with our kids.
If only we DIDN’T live so close to family!
If only I could lose a little weight and feel better about myself.
If only I had more friends. I’m soooo lonely.
If only my children weren’t so strong-willed and difficult. Motherhood looks easier for everyone else.
If only I had more time to myself. I’d feel less frustrated and stressed if I just had more time to rest and do stuff I really enjoy.
If I may be completely honest with you:
Every season of my life has failed to reach my expectations.
Perfection always eluded me, and joy slipped just beyond my grasp.
I remember the day (just a few years ago) when I scribbled the desperate words in my journal:
Joy is such an elusive concept for me! I don’t know what it looks like, sounds like, or feels like.
I have always desired to enjoy life, but I never could allow myself to because _______________________.
The reasons varied from day to day and year to year, but there was always this issue, that circumstance, or so-and-so to rob my contentment and satisfaction with life.
And then one day I made a decision.
I was standing in the kitchen of our home with my arms up to my elbows in soapy water at the sink. My eyes were staring out the kitchen window, but I really didn’t see anything.
I was angry. I was crying. I was praying.
I was sick of being so unhappy, so unable to find contentment and peace with the reality of my life.
As I cried and poured out my heart to the Lord, He interrupted my pitiful complaining with a probing question,
“What if things never change? Can you still choose joy?”
I thought of all the “issues” in my life I was unhappy about.
I thought of all the people and circumstances I wished would either go away or improve.
What if all that never changed?
What if I couldn’t change anything or anyone… but myself?
Personal change has been a long process for me, but something very fundamental happened in my heart that day:
I decided that I was the only one responsible for the measure of joy in my life.
I decided to enjoy life. As it is. Today.