Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Choosing Joy

Today is my son's last day of school.  It should be tomorrow, but a doctor's appointment will take the place of his final class of his Senior year.

We have been scrambling to complete much needed home improvements in preparation for the big graduation day and the party that precedes it.  The idea of people descending upon our home for any large gathering typically throws me into a panic as we actually LIVE in our house.  We are not those home-dwellers who keep their house so immaculate that a realtor could come by and use it as an example of how to stage a house.  We live here. And living here means lots of messes - lots of hockey and lacrosse gear airing in the front room, games and books spilling out of shelves and the coffee table, dvds stacked three deep in the entertainment center, dog hair floating like tumbleweeds under the dining room table and embedding itself in carpet; fingerprints and doggie noseprints on windows, kitchen countertop always stacked with things that don't belong there, random things like a lone sock and a hammer or crossword puzzle books and a can of ceiling Spackle - we LIVE in this house.

So, frantically, for the last few weeks, I've been trying to make it look like we don't live here (with the exception of the basement: that has become the stacking ground for plastic bins full of stuff that will be sorted and sold in a near-future garage sale); like our house is just always clean and perfect - that WE are clean and perfect people.  But that's just it - we're not clean and perfect people.  We're messy.  We're a family of six individuals and two dogs living under one roof - always busy, always running, always going.  Life is messy.  But the attempt at control of this messy life has left me angry and stressed out and frankly losing my mind.  It all exploded in a frustrated rant last night after dinner when I was told that the stacks of old carpet would be disposed of another way than just putting them out with the trash.  My panic overtook my reason and I lost it.  My losing it is never quiet.  It is usually me yelling out all my frustration - whatever is bugging me the most right that second will pour out and spill onto whomever is closest or whomever seems to be the cause of the stress.  So after a loud fit, I stomped upstairs to my room, flipped on the final hour of The Voice and tried to chill.

Unfortunately, I woke up feeling the same overwhelming pressure and stress that I had fallen asleep with. So, I pulled out Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts" devotional and read:
What insanity compels me to shrivel up when there is joy's water to be had here?....I'm blind to joy's well every time I really don't want it.  The well is always there. And I choose not to see it...Why do I lunge for control instead of joy?...If I am rejecting the joy that is hidden somewhere deep in this moment, am I not ultimately rejecting God? Whenever I am blind to joy's well, isn't it because I don't believe in God's care? That God cares enough about me to always offer me joy's water, wherever I am, regardless of circumstance...In His presence is fullness of joy.  He is in this moment. ~Voskamp, p. 72

Why do I "lunge for control instead of joy"?  It isn't getting my tasks done more quickly. It isn't making the house not look lived in - it is making my family crazy and me crazy, so instead of having a "perfect house" it's an imperfect house with a crazy, ranting mama inside.   A crazy, ranting mama who is missing all these moments of joy because of worry over rolls of old carpet and mismatched (missing stain) kitchen cupboard doors.  Instead of relishing my time with my boy and my just-returned from college girl and my two glorious little girls, one who would be "graduating" from elementary school if she were in traditional public school this year (thankfully, she is not), I am freaking out.  And really, why?  The tables, chairs and soft-serve ice cream machine are all reserved and ready to be picked up the day before the party. There are some other food items that either need to be bought or made, but honestly, the main stuff is already resolved.  What is left is supposed to be fun: making a video celebrating my boy's life...filling planters and flower beds with riotous colored flowers...putting up the curtain in the garage and stringing photos of my boy...and finally, ultimately, the bringing together of people who have watched my boy grow from a wild lil Mite hockey player into a young man - celebrating his life and his accomplishments and his future.  Why am I freaking out?

So, if you come to my boy's party, please realize that instead of lunging for control, I was choosing joy.  Please disregard the cupboard doors without stain; please don't look behind the curtain in the garage, or judge us for the pieces of trampoline leaning on the backyard shed.  If it is raining, and we're all stuck inside the house, instead of noticing the dust bunnies, please admire the beautiful work my husband did to remodel our sunporch and ignore the couches' need to be cleaned.  Please enjoy the sundae bar and have fun chatting with friends and family and join me in choosing joy that day.

For more information re Ann Voskamp, go to 

Updated 5/20/15 8:47am

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