#stealingbackmyjoy

My first real workout of 2016 was brutal.  Like, literally, my body almost shut down when the new lady on the DVD said:  the warm up is almost done.  I say “real” because I got two new DVDs for Christmas - no worries, I specifically asked for them - that I haven’t opened for a week even though I did go for a “run” on New Years Day.  That was brutal, too.

It was as if my body wanted to reject this new resolution of mine.  And I thought I was in at least decent shape.  But the realization that I now needed to shed 20 pounds, the stacks of unzippable pants/skirts in my closet and thread bareness of the leggings that are the only thing worn prompted a true lifestyle change for my 36th year.  And it really isn’t about physical health (though my vanity won’t let me go on in my current state).  It’s mental health, too.

I guess I spent most of 2015 kidding myself.  In a lot of ways.  I pretended to eat way more healthier than I did.  To be way more active than I was.  To be way less busier.  That I was way more important.  That I was much more content.

#Truth?  I spent almost all 365 days just trying to keep up.  Staying above water.  Surviving.

That’s a tough existence.  

Actually, it’s not.   My existence and my surviving isn’t tough.  Not in the least.  Tough would be a Syrian refugee trying to survive.  Or a single Mom working two jobs to make ends meet.  Or an intern in Washington believing they, too, can make a difference.  A few extra pounds, some really, really bad essays to grade, a six year old who thinks she’s sixteen and a threenager is not tough.  It’s life.

And I allowed 2015 to suck the life out of my living.  

I guess I hadn’t really thought of it that way until, in the midst of writing this post, I was challenged by Jeff Henderson at Browns Bridge Church to focus on one christian attribute in 2016.  Galatians 5:22-23 says "[b]ut the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" and as he unveiled this list on the big screen this morning, a revelation rolled right over me:   I need to focus on all nine.  Wow.  That’s a gut check.  Talk about self awareness - when you are keenly aware that every morsel of Christian fruit inside of you may be rotting.  Or at the very least, attracting fruit flies.  

I left the sermon determined to focus on self-control.  I was doing pretty good, too, then, once the girls were down for naps, I cracked open the Fruit By The Foot.  It was downhill from there.  Maybe kindness should be my focus.  So I decided to focus directly on kindness.  But then BJ said something irritating and I snarked back and before you know it, the words exchanged didn’t really register on the kindness meter {perhaps my sarcastic nature isn’t quite ready for true kindness} so I definitively settled on peace.  Then the girls woke up from their naps.  And demanded ice waters and popcorn and movies and Barbies and I totally loss the serenity I was seeking.

Clearly my spirit fruit was being juiced.  Quickly.

It wasn’t until this evening, when I ran out to get Lulu some ballet shoes {she starts dance class tomorrow - I’m not sure who is more excited, me, Lulu or Caroline} that I had some quiet time to reflect.  To think.  And I realized -

2015 stole my joy.

And it wasn’t as if I was ever sad or depressed.  I just spent the year discontented.  Things that should bring me joy and giggles - a frozen February, a classwide Gatsby Gala, silly summer swims - just were, well, irritating.  

I felt it.  I heard it.  But I couldn’t change it.  Why?  I don’t know.  But some of the most important and best “things” happened to me this year.  And I should’ve been over the moon.  Ecstatic.  But instead.  I was just eh.

So eh that my best friend, Alison, and I discussed the “eh-ness” that is thirty-five-something as the blog theme for 2016.  Write through the mundane existence that is being thirty-five in suburgatory.

Looking back at that conversation, I just laugh.  I mean, how depressing?  Who would really want to read about how my current life exists in the form of alarm clocks and lunches and carpool and meetings and workouts and trying to figure out who I really am.

Isn’t that everyone’s life?  Relatable is good but come. on.  There has to be something more, right?

I’ve been feeling for a while that there is something missing.  That there has to be more.  That life can’t just be this.  I was right.

There has been something missing.  Joy.

Because I allowed 2015 to steal it.

And as the sunset over Sawnee Mountain I realized that I will never have any self-control and kindness will not slip from my lips and peace will never enter my home if I continue to allow my joy to be stolen.

So.  This is the year I focus on joy.  I re-find the happy that is a messy kitchen.  I re-define my understanding of “clean and neat”.  I reconnect with the little hearts that know what the beating of mine sounds like.  I relearn how to dance in the living room and laugh at BJ’s corny jokes.  I will reclaim my joy and seek smiles and sunshine even in the frozenness of February and the awkward transition of April.  And by doing so, I am faithful that all the “other” that clouds my dreams, desires and plans will fall into place.  Because there is very little I am actually in control of.  But what I can control, I must.

So, I’m #stealingbackmyjoy in 2016.

I’m sure much of this refocusing will feel much like that first workout.  Hard.  Painful.  I will consider giving up before the warmup is over.  It will probably take a good three weeks to really get into the habit and for me to begin to see a change.  But I’m rooted firm.  On not letting 2015 change or control me.  

And God’s work is powerful.