The Thief of Joy

The other day we rode over to the park near our house after school. Big Luke was home from work. It was a beautiful, fall day. The kind of day that we have been waiting on for two months. We were all so happy to be outside and to be together. I was watching Charlie Mac walk toward the playground. He still has that toddler walk; hands up for balance, legs spread wide. A light breeze would tumble him.

Watching that walk is one of my favorite things ever. One day, I might compile a video of all my kids at this age and watch it on repeat at the nursing home that I hope I live long enough to go to.

The moment was so perfect that it took my breath away. The big kids swinging on the tire swing. Elle holding her Daddy’s hand, leading him toward the slide. My littlest one trying to keep up. Myself, soaking up every bit of it. Love and gratitude overwhelmed me.

And one second later, FEAR.

Fear that things are so good, that I am so blessed, that my family is healthy and happy and just everything, surely the bottom is going to fall out any minute. Fear that this is my last moment to love on Charlie Mac because some terrible accident is about to befall us on our drive home. Fear that this beautiful moment is a gift that I will cling to forever because it is the last one I will ever experience.

I know, that sounds awful, right?

Does anyone else do this?

Do you ever have moments of intense joy and gratitude and then sabotage them?

I go from calm serenity to internal panic in the same instant. I can no longer enjoy watching my sweet son toddle around because what if a tree limb is about to fall on him and ruin all of our lives forever.

Now, I don’t do this all the time. But it upsets and angers me every time I do. Sometimes I wonder if the loss of my brother intensifies this because my life has changed drastically in one horrible instant.

I have a feeling that I am not alone here. Whether your feelings are as intense as mine or not, I imagine that many of us do this to some degree.

I think it’s a practice to sit in joy and gratitude and to allow myself to fully feel those incredible emotions, to push fear aside. I know that worrying about something terrible is truly a waste of energy. I’m not saying that as parents, we shouldn’t be vigilant. For example, we never let our kids play in our oak tree covered back yard when it’s super windy because we’ve seen huge limbs fall. However, generally speaking, this type of fear only serves to rob us of our joy. And, friends, I cannot allow that to happen. I don’t want to hold back on feeling any joy. I want to feel it all with abundance and abandonment. I want to sink into every amazing moment.

I’m thinking that a mantra or something to bring me back into the present moment might help me here whenever this happens. Any tips?

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3 thoughts on “The Thief of Joy

  1. I think those of us who have suffered a great loss, realize tomorrow is not promised to anyone. It leaves us more vulnerable but also more appreciative. We are more able to cherish the small & large moments because we know how precious life is. It helps equip us for the hard times when they come: Jesus says, In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.
    Mantra: thank God for the moment & refuse to let satan steal your joy!

  2. This stopped me in my tracks. Gorgeous writing and an incredibly relatable message.
    A couple quotes from B. Brown I’ve heard about this “When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding.” I have a lot of trouble with this- putting all my feelings out on the line. We have to try to let ourselves appreciate and feel these moments for what they are. “Instead of dress-rehearsing tragedy, practice gratitude.” We just need to thank God for the moments we are given, and the fact that we get to feel them.
    And some quotes from you “I don’t want to hold back on feeling any joy. I want to feel it all with abundance and abandonment. I want to sink into every amazing moment.”
    Thanks for another great post!

    1. Kirby, Thank you for all of this! I see the ways that I try to “safe guard” myself from pain by shutting down or not being full present. Vulnerability is so hard. This blog actually helps me a lot with that- I feel extreme vulnerability everytime I post but I do it anyway because I’d like to think it helps someone or works toward creating community. And yes- I want to feel all the feels- especially the good ones. I’m so grateful for your friendship.

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