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Monday, January 24, 2011

Joy Comes in the Morning

Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. That is a Biblical reference but even if you’ve never picked up a Bible, you’ve probably heard a platitude reflecting the same sentiment in your lifetime:

“It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise”

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”

“Never let go of hope. One day you will see that it all has finally come together. What you have always wished for has finally come to be. You will look back and laugh at what has passed and you will ask yourself... 'How did I get through all of that?”

“When things are bad, we take comfort in the thought that they could always be worse. And when they are, we find hope in the thought that things are so bad they have to get better.”

I get daily scripture from a gadget on my desktop and though I have heard the verse above at least a thousand times, it struck me in a different way today. Going through tough times tends to push us deep inside ourselves. We get so wrapped up in our circumstances and our seeming inability to change them that we forget about the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Our “night” of weeping may be several days, weeks, months or even years but there is always joy in the morning. It may not be the joy we expect or seek. We may not win the lottery after struggling through financial troubles. We will not get back our loved ones who have passed away. We may not find the right mate within a mental deadline. But we will, if we are blessed, wake up and face a new day. We will have a chance to learn a new lesson and value new things. We will have an opportunity to change our perspective if we internalize the lessons that life presents to us. We will be given a reason to smile.

When I lost my job, all I could think about was how my life would change. Who was I if I wasn’t working? How would I pay the bills? What would become of the neat little life that I was used to? Answer? Life became a mess. I did my share of weeping and worrying. I was resentful and that resentment turned into depression. Then, a funny thing happened. I started working through my feelings. I was honest about where I was and I addressed and gave space to all of the emotions—good, bad and ugly. I kept waking up each day and even though I didn’t know what I would face, I was being given an opportunity to work towards joy. If you read the blog, you know that eventually, I started to volunteer and found joy in helping others. Volunteering led to a job opportunity and when health care issues with that job came up, another one landed in my lap. I firmly believe that I was given those blessings because I got outside of myself and searched for joy. With distance, I have learned the lessons of that dark time in my life. I worked through and released the cause for my weeping and realized that in a weird way, the loss of my job was a cause for joy. I am a new person. I like my new job but it doesn’t define me. I find happiness in my family and friends rather than in the things that my paycheck can buy. Before, I let my job consume me at the expense of everything personal, including my health. Today, I make time to volunteer because it is important to me and I am blessed to work with people who understand that I have other obligations. I make my doctor’s appointments so I can take care of my body and I take time for life and love because I value my soul. I may be still feeling the financial ramifications of losing that first job 2 years ago but I am starting to get a handle on the tidal wave of debt that destroyed my credit and rebuild my savings. I am in rebuilding mode and I am thankful for the opportunity to rebuild. What I make now is just enough but we are working on making changes so we will have more than enough to live, give and save.

There are surely struggles to come but I am not waiting for the hammer to drop. When roadblocks pop up, I will count them as joy for the perseverance they will help develop. I will surely weep in the night but there will be a morning. Therein lies faith, hope, expectation and freedom to feel unbridled joy.