A few months ago, my BH and I purchased this couch. We had used a loveseat for years, but decided we needed a longer couch that would accommodate more than two people whenever we have company. He was also excited at the prospect of being able to stretch his six-foot frame out fully without his limbs hanging awkwardly over the arms.
When we picked it out, I had no idea I would be the one breaking it in.
Recently, I’ve been sitting, laying, and sleeping here day and night, pretty much 24/7, trying my best to overcome a bout of pneumonia without passing it along to my BH (yes, it turns out that some forms of pneumonia are indeed, catching). When I returned to the doctor after nearly two weeks of complete “couch” rest, she informed me that I was actually still sick because my body was stressed out from being sick. Huh?I knew my defenses were down, but I never imagined how long it would take to recover.
And if you don’t me personally, I should probably just come clean with the fact that I don’t do “resting quietly” well. Not one. little. bit. But my depleted, exhausted body won out and for better or worse, I was stuck like glue to the couch.
After a few days, I was frustrated that my body wasn’t cooperating with my desire to get well. Nor did it seem to matter that I had a writing deadline. I couldn’t conjure up one single ounce of emotional or physical energy to put anything down. I was stressing big time, thinking ahead and wondering how I’d be able to host our daughters who were both flying into town for a visit. And the fact that we’re going on vacation in t-minus 6 days? Well, that didn’t help me heal any faster.
Here’s where I give huge kudos to a few of my writer friends who, despite enduring weeks, months, or even years of ongoing physical ailments, are able to put pen to paper and craft a message that sounds so…so…beautifully spiritual. Me? I could barely catch up on my reading without stopping every few pages to cough up a lung, much less actually sit in an upright position and tap out coherent sentences. I had nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero inspirational words of wisdom.
One day last week, I checked in on Facebook just to let my peeps know I was still breathing. My friend Alia (who is one of those people who writes prolific poetic grace words) mentioned that she was going to be using her time convalescing (from multiple surgeries) in a posture of prayer…and wondered if anyone would like to leave a prayer request in her comment section. Oy.
I was immediately convicted of my impatience. Of how I kept reminding God that I needed to be healed in order to enjoy all of the planned, upcoming activities.
After more than a week and a half of lying flat on my back, I had become absolutely stir crazy. So I decided to sneak out of the house for a quick trip to the local Home Goods store. I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocketbook and I felt that as long as I was being held hostage in my living room, I needed some color to liven up the room’s neutral palette.
Almost as soon as I walked through sliding double doors, I knew I had to have this pillow.
I pulled it from the shelf and ran my fingers over the embroidered words. In my spirit, I could hear the Lord say,
“Daughter, joy isn’t dependent on your circumstances. It is abundantly obvious wherever and whenever you choose to see it.”
I grabbed a couple more pillows, found the perfect coordinating throw blanket, and was on my way out of the store within fifteen minutes. I got home and practically collapsed on said couch while clutching my new pillow.
The next day, despite the fact that I didn’t feel any better, I was determined to find joy in the ordinary.
So I lit the “decorative” candles that were sitting on the blanket chest/coffee table.
I was instantly mesmerized by the dancing flames and wondered why I hadn’t lit them sooner. It was the simplest decision, yet I noticed my frazzled nerves were quieted.
Later on, as I woke from a nap, my eyes settled on the flags I had haphazardly tossed into a glass container in my feeble attempt to decorate for the 4th of July.
Normally I go “all out” for every holiday by decorating in almost every room of the house, but this year, I simply didn’t have the energy. Remembering my decision to focus on the good ~ the little things that brought joy ~ I realized that my family didn’t care about the decorations, or even the activities I had planned for them during their visit. They cared about me. And at the risk of sounding glib or hokey, that thought brought me joy.
And y’all, sometimes I’m kind of slow, and God has to remind me more than once (or twice), but I also came to another realization…
When I stopped stressing about what I couldn’t control, I was able to choose joy.
When life is messy, joy can feel far away. Have you ever had to consciously choose joy over your circumstances?