Choosing Joy When Life Dumps Mud on Your Plans

My pastor preached on joy this Sunday.  Afterward, my mind came alive with article ideas.  They were jumping around like ping-pong balls.  Why do we choose happiness over joy?  How do people benefit by choosing joy?  Do I want tacos for lunch?   Wait, that’s not it…

(Photo Credit:  Matthijs – Creative Commons)

I rushed home to put pen to paper.  I was prepared to do a full dissertation on the ministry of Paul and Silas – how their joy during imprisonment led to Paul writing one of my favorite books of the bible:  Philippians.

Unfortunately, things did not go according to plan.

If you’ve ever tried to befriend Creativity, you know that it’s a ticking time bomb.  All you have to say is, “I think I will create something today,” and Creativity will sneer as it opens your front door.  On its way out, it’ll say, “You wanna bet?”

So, I went through the normal routine, made lunch, fed the baby, and then put him down for his nap.  Wrestled the toddler, read her a few stories, and laid her down for a nap.

I do this every day.  Normal stuff.  Once they’re asleep, my window of creativity arrives.  I attack my keyboard, emptying my head of every idea still bouncing around.

But, the baby woke up.  Then he had an accident.  All over himself and our carpet.  Dontae and I scrubbed and scrubbed.  Then he was hungry.  So Dontae fed him while I addressed the heap of dirty dishes taking over our kitchen.

“I can’t write with these dirty dishes glaring at me,” I thought.  “After this, I will write.”

Then our daughter woke up crying.

We’ll stop there with the play-by-play.  You get the idea.  By nightfall, Creativity was in the next county, probably rummaging through an office building for stale break room donuts.

You read through this account of my day and honestly it’s just life.  I would never change it.  I know I was called to be my children’s mother.  There is joy in that.  Not just happiness.  Because, I will be honest, washing poop out of my son’s socks and hearing my daughter cry all through dinner for no apparent reason, were not happy moments for me.

But deeply rooted, way “down in my heart”, there was still joy.  Because I chose joy a long time ago.

God tattooed joy on my heart, the day I gave my life to Him.  He weaves it into my soul when I learn about joy in scripture.  He leads me through each day with His joy etched in the sky.

Happiness is great, too.  But I can’t say it sticks around very long when the storm clouds roll in.

[Tweet “”Joy is not dependent upon external circumstances in any shape or form.” – @PastorMikeDrury”]

My little story has a joyful ending.  Dontae, the kids and I played and wrestled and sang and danced and laughed all the way to bed time.  I didn’t write.  But it was an awesome day.  After each child was under the covers, I had a funny thought,

I wanted to write today, but then life took over and wrecked my plans.  So now I will just write about how life took over and wrecked my plans.


Join the Discussion:  How do find your Joy in the middle of a not-so-happy situation?






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13 thoughts on “Choosing Joy When Life Dumps Mud on Your Plans

  1. Your emphasis on *choosing* joy is spot on, Laura! I’m a single woman with no children, yet I can totally relate to the “happiness-stealing” moments that can still result in joy! Great post! (Found you via Michael Hyatt’s FB post.)

  2. Joy is definitely in internal choice. Yesterday I got in an auto accident on the way to a meeting, in the past I would have been freaking out with the “oh no what do I do now” Instead I just chose to “live in the FoG”, and know that a car is only a thing and no one was injured in any way shape or form. This morning another FoG moment occurred when my insurance company let me know they were sorry about my accident and I was found not to be at fault. Please take your car to XXXXXXXXXXX for repairs and pick up your rental. I could have chosen to be mad, sad or glad for the past 16 hours. I chose glad, and I am now glad I did

    • That’s rough, Brian! I’m glad to hear that no one was injured. Your day totally trumps my “inconvenient day” and you still chose joy. Thank you for the real-time example of how powerful this concept can be. My hat’s off to you.

    • Thank you for reading, Wes! I like how you worded that “Write where you are and write what you know…” – very tweetable. 🙂 So glad my experience provided a reminder for you!

  3. Great article. One season of challenge after challenge, I started saying out loud many times a day. “I choose joy not based on my circumstances. It is well with my soul.”

  4. Life has a way of doing that, doesn’t it? The schedules, the interruptions, the unexpected, they all assist in setting creativity aside but they don’t take away our joy. Thank God. Visiting today via #MichaelHyatt’s FB post. 🙂

    • Yep, Kristi, it’s funny how it’s all truly just “life”. And yet, it’s so easy to lose sight of that fact and start banging your head against the wall. Thank you for reading!