I am thrilled to share my space today with my dear friend Mary Carver. The message she shares is one of hope and perspective. It reminds us that a new beginning follows every ending and that joy is awaiting discovery during such moments of transition.
Over the past two years I’ve had the honor to work on a book, a compilation of blog posts and stories written by Sara Frankl, a friend and fellow blogger who passed away in 2011. Reading her words once again has challenged me to think about joy differently – and to seek it in different places than I might have before.
Today I invite you to read an excerpt of our book, where Sara tells the bittersweet story of saying goodbye to some favorite clothes – and the possibilities they represented, while saying hello to some unexpected joy that had been for her all along.
Sometimes we get lucky and joy just knocks us upside the head. It’s cozy and comforting and we sometimes take for granted that it will always be available and waiting for us at the end of a hard day. But more often than not, joy is hidden in the cracks, in the unforeseen places God builds into our hardest times.
When I discovered that being homebound was going to be a permanent lifestyle for me, I gave away some things that I knew I wouldn’t ever use again, things like purses and coats and dresses. This summer, though, I looked at my summer clothes and realized what a waste it was to have them sitting in my dresser. They didn’t fit, but they also felt like a reminder of all the places I wore them, and all the places I would never go again. Sure, I could have saved them to wear around my house, but that thought didn’t bring me joy. It’s like all my past fun times of going out with friends in those cute clothes suddenly got confined to my house with me.
Reality is that life is different. And when I look at a closet of outfits that scream, “Wear me somewhere fun!” it causes me to long for something I’ll never do and places I’ll never go. In those moments, with something as simple as clothes in my closet, I find myself longing instead of living. Wishing for what was instead of what is. Fighting for a life that is no longer mine.
I didn’t want to do that – so I asked Susie to come over to go shopping. I could have just given her boxes of clothes and been done with it, but I honestly want to squeeze joy out of every little moment I can. I miss shopping, helping other people pick out clothes, figuring out what outfits they could put together from their closets. So I made Susie try on every single piece of clothing and we talked about them just like it was a shopping trip.
And I had fun. Giving brought me joy. Shopping in my own house for someone else brought me joy. Later, when Susie would tell me she wore something of mine out to dinner with friends, it brought me joy. It made me feel like a part of me was still there with her, still having fun, still participating.
That joy was sitting right there in my drawers. It could have brought me sadness and longing, but instead I chose joy. I put the work into something sad and made it happy.
It’s something for you to think about as you go through your day today. Stop and take in your moments. Look at them from another angle. Joy is sometimes in the most unlikely places. You just have to put in a little work before you can find it.
What unlikely place might be holding joy for you today?
If you enjoyed this excerpt from Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts, you can learn more about the book and its authors at TheChooseJoyBook.com.
Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She writes about her imperfect life with humor and honesty, encouraging women to give up on perfect and get on with life, at www.givinguponperfect.com. Mary is the co-author of a new book called, Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. Released by the Hachette Book Group in 2016, CHOOSE JOY is a must-have for those searching for meaning and beauty in a world full of tragedy. Sara’s words breathe with vitality and life, and her stories will inspire smiles, tears, and the desire to choose joy. To learn more about CHOOSE JOY, visit TheChooseJoyBook.com.