On Choosing Joy {Even When It’s Not Easy}

On Choosing Joy {Even When It's Not Easy}

I called 911 for the first time in my 32 years this weekend.

What had started out as a peaceful, fun-filled Saturday quickly turned into a frantic rush to the ER when I found my husband lying in the front yard screaming in pain with his leg bent unnaturally beneath him.

We debated calling 911 for all of 5 minutes before it became painfully obvious that I would not be able to get him to the car even if I wanted to drive him to the ER myself.

So I called 911.

The girls were amazing. They took care of Jackson inside, got me what I needed when I needed it, and generally stayed out of the way.

Once the EMTs got his knee straightened (and he — thankfully — began to regain feeling in his toes), they splinted his leg, put him on a backboard, lifted him onto a stretcher, and then rolled him into the ambulance.

I called a friend who said that, yes, of course, I could drop the girls off at her house.

And we headed out.

***

On Choosing Joy {Even When It's Not Easy}

It didn’t take long before my mind started to race on the long drive to the hospital.

This was bad, very bad.

Sean is a stay-at-home dad, and he takes care of everything. Breakfast and lunch. The dishes. Vacuuming and mopping. Playing with and caring for the dog. Homeschooling our 6yo. Driving the girls to and from various extracurricular activities. Walking the baby when he’s fussy and not content just to be snuggled while I work.

I haven’t been back from maternity leave all that long, and taking off another 2 months just isn’t possible.

The truth is I had plans for this week. Plans for this month. Plans for this year.

Nothing is going according to plan.

***

On Choosing Joy {Even When It's Not Easy}

By midday Sunday, approximately 24 hours after the accident, I realized I had a decision to make. I could let myself be overwhelmed by everything before me. Or I could choose joy.

I don’t mean to imply that in that moment I chose joy once and for all and suddenly everything became sunshine-y and perfect.

{Although that would have been nice!}

No, what I realized was that I can choose joy over and over and over again as we walk through the next few weeks. And maybe, just maybe, the habits I form during these weeks will become habits that characterize my life.

I don’t think being a joyful person means joy comes easily. Rather, it’s a choice you have to make again and again, in every moment of every day.

***

On Choosing Joy {Even When It's Not Easy}

I can choose joy when the girls are bickering over every little thing. When I’ve gotten overwhelmed and snapped at someone. When I wake up with an incredibly sore throat and just want to hide under the covers. When the dog is found chewing on a stick of butter. Hypothetically, of course.

I can choose joy when 8″ of fresh snow falls on St. Patrick’s Day. When the baby just wants to be held and the stack of dishes in the sink is growing by the minute. When deadlines are staring me in the face.

Choosing joy doesn’t mean it comes easy. It means I’m choosing it even when it’s hard. Even when it doesn’t make sense.

It means I know I’m going to screw up and default to overwhelmed, frazzled, frustrated mama sometimes. But when a tiny hand pats my shoulder or the 8-year-old’s eyes well up with tears because she’s overwhelmed too or the baby just wants to snuggle in spite of my to-do list, I will take those not as discouraging reminders of my failures but as an opportunity to choose joy.

I will take time to celebrate the little moments. To say yes to tea. To notice that one of my children is worried and hiding in her shell. To sit and talk with my bedridden husband.

Choosing joy means seeing life through the lens of eternity and realizing that, yes, this is hard. Yes, this is different than what I planned. But God knows. And I can choose to glorify Him in this moment.

I choose joy.

Mandi Ehman is the blogger behind Life Your Way. She and her husband have four beautiful girls plus one baby boy, and together they live, work and homeschool on a little slice of heaven in wild, wonderful West Virginia. Mandi loves coffee, chocolate, easy meals, beautiful things and minimalist spaces.
  • Danisa

    So proud of you! Choosing joy could be one of the hardest things in life. You are your Father’s daughter, once you make the decision He will carry you through even if dragging is involved. <3

    • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

      Thanks, Danisa! ♥

  • Estelle

    YOU are amazing Mandi, your whole family is!!!
    You are inspiring, especially when the going gets tough…
    Keeping you in my prayers…

    • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

      Thanks, Estelle! To be clear, I fail a lot. But I’m determined to keep getting up and trying again. :)

  • Claire

    I’m so sorry to hear about this accident. I pray that your husband’s recovery goes as quickly as possible, and that God gives you the grace to handle the situation.

    • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

      Thank you so much, Claire — your prayers are truly appreciated!

  • Susan Heid

    What a great reminder of the choice we can make each and every day, no matter the circumstance. I will be lifting your family in prayer Mandi as you tackle this season. Healing abound in your home :-)

  • Meredith-PenelopeLovesLists

    I’ve often wondered what would happen if I stopped framing my life by what I wanted/expected to happen, but rather by what was actually happening. And, by doing that, if I could choose to live in the moment and look for, in that moment, things to learn, or graceful ways of being.

    You’ve personified that here. This is a tough circumstance, to be sure, and it doesn’t match your expectations what what “should” be happening. But, in choosing joy, you are choosing to accept life on it’s own terms. And peace, and joy, will come from that.

    Quick healing to the Mr, though!

    • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

      Ah, yes. One of our youth leaders in high school once said that most frustrations/disappointments in life happen because of the expectations we place on situations or people, and that has always stuck with me.

      Thanks for putting that into words for this situation!

  • http://www.simplehealthytasty.com Tammie@SimpleHealthyTasty

    So true! So much of how we feel about something is in the way we choose to respond to it. We can’t always choose our circumstances but we can choose how we respond to them. We can choose to act or be acted upon. Praying for your family and that your husband will have a quick recovery.

    • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

      Wise words, Tammie!

      And thank you for your prayers!

  • Cheryl in Texas

    First of all, I hope your hubby is recovering! A long time ago, I had someone ask me how it is that I’m always so happy and chipper. And I replied that sometimes I’m not, but those are the times I have to “fake it til I make it”. :) Basically your same message. I decided to choose joy, even when I wasn’t quite there, because this magical thing happens when you do that and whatever had me down or grouchy melts away. As you said, not that everything is instantly sunshine and perfect, but it absolutely affects our perceptions of things. “Look for a lovely thing and you will find it.” ~ Sara Teasdale

    • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

      Love this, Cheryl! I’ve heard a few people imply that “faking it until you make it” isn’t authentic, but I think it depends on why you’re doing it. If you’re just trying to be fake so people don’t know you’re struggling, that’s a problem. But if you’re doing it because you want your heart to follow, then I think it’s a GREAT approach to life. I find that it doesn’t take very much faking before I get caught up in the joy myself!

  • Name

    Try this experiment (Mandi I bet your girls woudl love this). Stand in the middle of the room with nothing nearby. Kick your dominant leg up into the air like you’re punting a football. (The goal is to get your leg up as high as possible) Make a note of how high your leg goes. Rest for a minute. Now smile and kick your leg again while smiling. Your leg will go higher this time I guarantee it.

    • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

      Hehe, this didn’t exactly work for us because nobody could stop giggling, but it certainly was fun to try!

  • C

    I hope Sean has a speedy recovery. It is very hard when God throws something like this in your path but the important thing is how you handle it. If I remember correctly you guys have to pay all your medical bills up front and then get reimbursed so I’m sure that is a hit as well.

    • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

      Thanks so much — we’re thankful that he’s finally making some progress in his recovery!

  • Naomi

    Just wondering how exactly to choose joy? I know I need to, but how exactly?

    • Amy

      instead of seeing the situation for what it is, look beyond. Try and see the positive of things. Things could always be worse. this I have learned. But when my day takes a turn from the worse I am trying to find what is good out of it. It is hard, believe me. I am learning everyday.

      • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

        Great thoughts, Amy — thanks for chiming in!

  • roxana

    thank you Mandi, wow, its very inspirational, thank you for sharing your life the way it is! very real! love your! Website!

    • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

      Thanks so much for your encouraging words, Roxana — that means a lot!

  • Erin Boyd Odom

    Love this, Mandi!