I write a private journal on Evernote (if you need a cool writing place, try this one out!). It’s a place where I dump my thoughts, my hurts, my questions. I tussle with my faith here. I vomit out the things I wish I could verbalize to those who tick me off. Certainly most of that is not worth sharing. And thankfully, the dumping allows the crap to find a home, the angst dying there with the words on the screen.
But once in awhile, I write something that I want to share. So it is with the journal entry copied below. But perhaps a little context would be helpful.
This entry is entitled Stop the Whining! (Yes, I give each journal entry a title because it’s my journal and I can do whatever I want to there – and because sometimes it helps me find something I’m looking for.)
It was very long, so below is only an excerpt (trust me, you are lucky in that!). At the time I wrote this, I was extremely frustrated with a young friend who was having some continuing hard knocks – mostly in finding a job. I wanted her so much to see the good in her life, in the joy she was missing by only hanging onto the frustration and anxiety. (She has since resolved most of this, even without yet finding her dream job!)
So I wrote a “letter” to her in my Journal about what I had endured in my many years of life. Cancer. Death of loved ones. 40 years of marriage. Poverty and home foreclosure and hunger. All the battles and challenges and failures, as well as all my ups and downs in my joy and attitude and faith.
I wanted so desperately for her to know that joy in life doesn’t come when things all work out; it comes as a decision in the midst of all of it. (Eventually I said a lot of what I wrote directly to her, but my journaling helped me find the kindness in spoken words that my original angst sometimes overlooks!)
In the midst of that entry was this short list of what’s really important to me, what brings me back to joy. It’s what I attempt to live by each day, even as I dump angst into words on a screen for just my own eyes! I hope it speaks to you…
Maybe having cancer changed my ability to be more resilient in all situations. Maybe the stuff that knocks people back on their heels, just doesn’t hit me as hard as it does others. I certainly wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone, but I would wish that everyone would get a grip on what’s important and what’s not. No matter what their life has served up.
Here’s my top 5 (and my bottom 5, and basically, my only 5):
Prayer – I could not exist without my deep faith in God and believing that He listens to my every cry, sees my every trip-up, cheers my every victory, thankful that He refuses to put up with any crap from me. Instead He kindly guides, teaches, nudges and caresses my soul. This anchors my life.
Health – for goodness sake, unemployed or employed, living in a mansion or a shack, without my health nothing seems to work quite as easily or as well. (Note to self: get healthy and stay there!)
Family – My husband of 40+ years. My kids. And I won’t even get into grandkids and the absolutely.ridiculous.typical.gram I have become! And even though some extended family seem strange or even unloving, family is the storyline that threads my life together. Without acknowledging this, I am adrift without an opening chapter to my story that continues even today.
Friends – I mean the kind who I sit and talk with for hours, thinking it’s only been 30 minutes. I need, and have, just a small tribe who knows me. Truly knows me. They pray with me, and let me ‘vent’ and they all tell me when to stop my whining! And I with and to them! (Note to self: nourish these friendships. Always. They are my gold, a hidden treasure in my life!)
Know My Escape – a book, a TV show, an uplifting movie, a walk in the woods. It is a change in my eye-view when something is nagging at me, worrying me, distracting me. Somehow, this clears my vision to see the joy again.
That’s it. Short and simple! Knowing these trigger points has helped me so tremendously in so many ways!!
I strongly recommend giving this some thought for yourself: what brings you, keeps you in, joy?