Saturday, May 30, 2015

joie de vivre

Because this is the season of spring sports, and my two children are both involved in spring sports, I feel like my bottom is permanently glued to an uncomfortable, backless, hard metal bleacher. I'm sure many of you can relate.  And since they don't have wi-fi at baseball and softball fields, and even if they did, since I wouldn't be toting along the laptop to furiously type on because that would be weird, I have spent very little time in front of the computer. Which could be good or bad, depending on your particular feelings toward this blog anyways. I'm imagining if you hate it you probably aren't reading this, so we will just stick to assuming my friends love this blog and are also excited about the rare Saturday post.

The other day I was having a blah day. Not bad, just blah. Sometimes adults have blah days because work and kids and chores and traffic and expectations and pressures and stressors and everything else just wring the joy right out of life. Remember when we were young and we just couldn't wait to grow up? Well here it is, ladies and gentlemen. The grown-up world we pined for is right here, and we are living the life, yet we couldn't be a more sad and depressed and anxious group of folks. TBH (do you like how I threw in my new instagram knowledge there?), there is something majorly wrong with this picture.

So I texted my bestie where is my joie de vivre?

I've been hearing a lot about joie de vivre (the cheerful enjoyment of life) lately. Dr. Ruth (remember her, the sex therapist that used to be on TV?) even has a book about it. 

Joie de vivre. It sounds pretty, doesn't it? But what is it, really? What makes some people feel like they want to skip down the sidewalk, while others plod?

Have I ever told you that I am a little bit starstruck (#SS)? It seems like celebrities are full of happy, with their money and their fame and their beauty.  (I have two claims to fame: I once met Beth Moore--when I literally hung up mid-sentence during a phone call with my husband, screeching "I JUST SAW BETH MOORE" and then I chased her (and her family, bless them) down in a busy Atlanta hotel, riding up the escalator with them and chatting away like I was part of her security detail. I also stalked Kenny Chesney at the downtown YMCA while he was working out and then accosted him in the hallway and asked for his autograph (which he refused with some pitiful excuse like he was tired or something. WHATEVER. Then he changed his mind. Insert eye roll. In one fateful move, you lost a forever fan, KC.)) I think I've been a little bit #SS because I was certain that being well-known would equal being well-liked, and being well-liked would undoubtedly equal joy. (Being a people-pleaser so you can be well-liked has its pitfalls. And then sometimes you plod down the sidewalk instead of skip because you can't please everybody. The only One you need to worry about pleasing is God, and He has a handy book with details on how to do that. The End.)

(At this point I am having a hard time concentrating. Miss A has entered the room, stolen Siri, and is asking it questions. Can you follow this convo?:
A: what is your name?
Siri: my name is Siri.
A: what is your husbands name?
Siri: perhaps there something I can help you with?
A: should I go to the pool?
Siri: I'm not sure what to say.
A: I need to you say!
Siri: who me?
A: yes you.
siri: and you.

And on and on and on...)

ANYHOW. No wonder a sixth grade teacher doesn't get much accomplished.

While this joie de vivre is a nice sentiment, I find myself it's critic, coming up with excuses as to why adults simply cannot comply with it's command to "enjoy life". How can we, when it seems we will explode from all the pressure?

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret to being content in any and every situation, whether well fed  or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. {philippians 4: 12}

Sounds like Paul had his joie de vivre all figured out, and it only takes reading one more verse to figure out what his joie de vivre was all about.

I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.

All this? All this?

All this. Because I don't suppose Paul would lie.

Joie de vivre. Joy of life. The secret to being content. Christ. Strength. Life. It doesn't take much to connect those dots, does it?

It doesn't say there is a sure-fire way to be happy all the time, which I think is exactly what I expect. I want to feel happy. All. The. Time. In my mind, happiness equals joy, but in real life, we experience the entire gamut: anger. Sadness. Grief. Sorrow. Love. Frustration. Happiness. (And everything in between.)

The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, 
patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
{galatians 5:22}

If I look back on habits and mindsets I've held in the past, I can see a common pattern. If you imagine a relationship with God as a vertical line, and everything else as a horizontal line, then I have consistently shown a pattern of taking my eyes off the vertical line and searching all the horizontal ones for joy.  I'll either discover my horizontal lines do work temporarily, or they don't work and I permanently burn them, or I'll figure out they don't work for a time, and then return to them later, often with the same results. (What do my horizontal lines look like now, or what have they looked like in the past? Weight control. Beauty. Food. Popularity. Control. Compliments. Alcohol. Perfectly clean and decorated house. All the things I want that I think will make me happy. Some, like alcohol, I've burned because it's a dangerous habit. I rarely drink. Others, like weight, I go back to over and over, looking for something different and finding the same results.) It's only when I turn my eyes back to that vertical lifeline that I find my complete joy--and that's joy despite the circumstances that I find myself in. The world's issues will never go away--we will always have to deal with the life we've been handed, and all the stuff that goes with it. The good, the bad, and the ugly, as people say. But eventually we figure out that it's not the circumstances as much as it is how we choose to respond to them.

I'm no saint when it comes to my responses. In fact, I am generally a passive-aggressive responder, as I typically forget to look vertically and the horizontal offers no positive back-up. But I find that the more I spend time reading and soaking in His word, the more likely I am to find myself remembering to LOOK UP. Just the simple act of turning my eyes upward acknowledges that those horizontal lines are no longer as important to me as He is. And giving Him the glory, in any small way I can, is what I'm striving toward.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, 
so that  you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
{romans 15:13}

Have we totally forgotten how to have a good time? Want a little extra joie de vivre in your daily life? Start with daily devotions and prayer, and do little things like adding fun to your day--whether that's reading a book, bouncing a ball or taking a short walk. Need help figuring out what's fun? Think back to when you were a kid. What were some things you liked to do? Skip, run and jump your way to grabbing a piece of that fun and adding it to your daily life!

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