Choose Joy

I hate to feel out of control.

I really, really hate to feel out of control.

I hate when “life happens” (why do people say that as though life is a bad thing?) and monkey wrenches get thrown into my plans. I hate when the carpet gets pulled out from under me and I’m faced with a situation completely outside of my power to fix.

I wish I could say my response to these kinds of situations is immediately godly. I wish I could say my heart is flooded with peace and I keep my eyes set on things above as I recall all the times Jesus has provided for me. Instead, I usually get incredibly frustrated, stressed, and unpleasant. I tend to complain loudly, listing life’s offenses against me as though preparing a legal case to vindicate my right to be frustrated. By the grace of God, though, I think over the years I’ve gradually gotten better at choosing peace and trust and joy more quickly.

This weekend my friend Peter visited Kansas City. We kind of grew up together and were very much in the same youth group cohort in high school. He goes to school three hours away from Kansas City and really wanted to visit the prayer room, so I drove out to pick him up and set him up in a friend’s house for a couple nights. Friday and Saturday were great. We hung out, got pizza, sat in the prayer room, went to service, and played games with some of my worship team.

Sunday I was already running a little late to pick Peter up for church, and I walked outside to icy roads and Idris‘ windows coated with ice. I set myself to the task of scraping, grumping all the way, and then my scraper head broke off from its cozy mitt. Not happy. It took about 15 minutes to scrape my windows, alternating hands while my fingers went numb. I quickly decided that I needed to rise above frustration and choose joy, but I wasn’t very awesome at it. Here’s how that went:

“I’m thankful I have a car. I’m thankful I’m in Kansas City at IHOPU. I’m thankful my scraper still works. I’m thankful there’s no wind. I’m thankful there’s no sign-in at service on Sunday so I won’t lose any attendance points. I’m thankful Peter is cool and won’t be mad if I’m late. (Oh Jesus, my fingers! How much more to scrape?) I’m thankful I have a car. I’m thankful the Holy Spirit lives inside of me and I get to live with Jesus forever. I’m thankful this is my last Missouri winter. Last Missouri winter. Last Missouri winter. Last Missouri winter.”

Church was great, we only missed a little bit of worship, and we were on the road to take Peter home in good time. Until…

Idris stopped accelerating. Being unable to push past 20 mph on the freeway is Not A Good Thing.

long walk and a taxi from good

We pulled over and Peter looked at my engine and walked to buy oil while I called my dad near tears. (As previously stated, I HATE to feel out of control.) I then called AAA for a tow, and we ended up leaving Idris at my mechanic’s shop (he’s an IHOPer I’ve used before and he’s awesome), getting picked up by my wonderful roommate, and borrowing her car to drive Peter back home.

The afternoon was crazy and I was all kinds of stressed, but through it all, I again tried to keep reminding myself of what I have to be thankful for.

I’m thankful I have a car.

I’m thankful Peter was with me when it happened.

I’m thankful my roommates were so encouraging and helpful.

I’m thankful Peter had enough wiggle room not to get in trouble with school.

I’m thankful the tow truck came quickly.

I’m thankful I have an awesome mechanic whom I know and trust.

I’m thankful the roads weren’t icy anymore and we had a safe drive.

I’m thankful my dad was able to talk to me and help me stay calm.

I’m thankful my tax refund just came in and I shouldn’t have trouble paying for repairs.

I’m thankful I live right by IHOPU and my roommate is in my classes so I won’t have trouble getting to school.

Even when crazy things happen, they’re not the end of the world. They are opportunities to choose joy and grow in love and trust for Jesus.

Maybe next time I’ll be even quicker to choose joy.



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michelle Morrison
    Feb 20, 2016 @ 14:44:57

    Catching up…Good thoughts here. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with getting frustrated; we wouldn’t be human if that didn’t happen. As you pointed out, we do have the option of choosing to trust God with our circumstances or not, and that is where right and wrong becomes an issue. It does help to keep in mind God is bigger than our circumstances, and we don’t have to be defined by what we can’t control.


  2. Caitlyn
    Feb 20, 2016 @ 14:53:34

    Thanks, Michelle. That’s so important to keep in mind.


  3. Trackback: Deliver Me | Fragrance Arise

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