Choose joy. Do you really think so?

Henry Nouwen said:

Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many joy seems hard to find.

They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck?

Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently than the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it.

What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice.

I DISAGREE. I COULD NOT DISAGREE MORE. How dare he? I did not choose to have major depression, it seems to have chosen me. But I know I have to choose to fight it like it is an enemy that wants me dead. Yes, I have something inside me that surfaces from time to time. I feel powerless against it but I have learned that I am not without choices.

I did not choose to be an addict – though in recovery – I have to accept the fact that I can’t drink. Not ever again. The very fact that it still bothers me and I feel sad about the loss, well that reminds me that I’m an addict if I had any doubt. There was a time when I thought I couldn’t live without alcohol. Now I know that I can. I choose to be a recovering alcoholic.

But I have not found joy. I am not choosing joy. I am choosing life. I am happy. I feel a certain level of contentment. But I am restless. I do not feel joy. At least not yet. Perhaps I am failing to CHOOSE IT.

Choose joy – okay – I suppose on a certain level I have to agree just like … I choose LIFE. I choose not to smoke which is slow suicide. I choose not to drink which was a death sentence. I choose to get up, even when I want to sleep forever. I still have those mornings. And I choose to create, and love and … I choose to think that what I do matters even when the ‘voices in my head’ tell me it is all worthless. And it wouldn’t matter if I stopped. Stopped thinking. Stopped writing. Stopped shooting. Stopped.

Some days it is still just choosing to breathe.

That little girl above – a chubby toddler gazing out of that airplane door — innocent, curious, tentative, that’s me too. She had no idea how hard it would be to choose.

Some other things I have written on the topics above.
Eulogy to Life,
Winter Comes,
Splintered Truth,
This Epic Grief,
No Dignity,
I Need a Filling,

2 thoughts on “Choose joy. Do you really think so?

  1. Someone once said that all of the things that hinder us from experiencing God’s perfect reality are choices to either believe in a lie, or to follow one. (paraphrased… I’ll have to look it up) Granted, some of these choices happen before we know the difference. We become afraid, we become lonely, we become whatever emotion that you can think of, and then if we don’t know any better (worse yet, sometimes we know all too well) we choose to believe that we’re horrid people, unlovable, or other insidious things that keep us following or accepting the truth.

    The indignation that you mention is a natural one. It seems utterly cruel and arbitrary. A theologian would say that is the curse of living in a fallen world. But, that seems to neat while the world seems to cluttered and messy.

    We believe that we’re worthless. God says that we’re fearfully and wonderfully made. We believe that we’re useless. God says that we were created for a purpose. We believe that we were made to suffer, it’s our lot in life… God says we were made to be in perfect relationships with Him. We deserve death, He gives us life. There is supposed to be joy in all of that, but for those of us who have been beaten around by life, it is really hard to see where we had a choice to begin with.

    For me, the choice to be an addict came way too soon in life, before I knew the consequences. I chose to run away from my pain, hide it from my family, and use something to help me feel good at first, nothing later. I truly believe if I had known the truth about the way that God loved me, it might have made a difference. But, given that we always have some sort of choice, it’s what we do with the next step and the next step… perhaps that is where the joy is…

    …that we have a next step, and a choice. Someday the truth of God will eventually make the 13 inch migration from head to heart in me, and perhaps then I’ll know the joy of which David wrote. But, that I can hear at all must be some precursor to it. I have to believe that or the God I believe in isn’t who He said He is….


Thanks so much for reading and sharing.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s