There was a book published by Herald House several years ago titled Choose Joy. The cover of the book had that title in bold letters, surrounded by clouds with other choices in them–happiness, despair, support, grief, anger…
My mother has it sitting in her bathroom where she (or anyone else who uses it) can pick the book up and read one of the short chapters.
Since we go out to play games with her on a weekly basis, I see the book quite frequently, and the title of it has really gotten me thinking the last few weeks…especially as I look at the other choices listed on the cover.
During the last few years, I have gone through some difficult times at my work. Not unusual, I know. But during that time I found myself making other choices–anger, bitterness, resentment, hatred. I was becoming a cynical, unhappy person who was not always someone that others enjoyed being around. My choices were justified, (at least in my eyes–and from the responses of others who were going through similar situations.
But at one point this spring I had an unexpected question pop into my mind: “Why do you want to hold on to your anger?” And I became aware it was my choice. I could continue to see myself as a victim, as someone who had been wronged–and turn into one of the toxic people I was associating with.
Or I could choose joy. That doesn’t necessarily mean happiness. It’s longer-lasting than happiness, and it’s not dependent on the actions and choices of others. Nor was it something I could do on my own. I had to be willing to let go of what seemed to others to be justified anger…to let go of hurts…so that God could step in and bring the healing that I so desperately desired. I had built a fence around myself, and I had to be the one to start tearing it down.
Once I began that process, I discovered that the power of God’s love is greater than any forces of hurt and pain…and I was willing to choose joy…
To walk with you–
to let you be my guide–
takes me to places I would not choose.
with stones in the way
that make me fearful.
I had thought
the walk would be
on well-marked routes.
The sun shines–
but dimly at times–
as I struggle
even when it seems I am going the wrong way
that light will break through the darkness
to cling to the One who urges me on.
you have promised
never to leave me completely alone
to bring me to new heights
new eyes to see your people with.
and I fear
in equal amounts.
Be the light
in my darkness,
in my doubt,
the new life
in my death.