Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Life that Sizzles and Pops: Celebration and Joy

Somewhere between being a child and an adult, I stopped giving myself permission to enjoy life. I wish I could blame motherhood, I seem to use that as an excuse for a lot of my "difficulties" -- but the sad truth is it happened long before my children. 

If anything, it's my kids that brought me back. Slowly, I started noticing the little things again. The leaves, the flowers, the Christmas lights, the danceability of music... 

But embracing joy and celebrating moments, that's still something I struggle with.

Yesterday, Gretchen Miller began her encouraging talk by reading a quote from Shauna Niequist:

“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don't want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.” 
Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life

These words were so hard to hear. So many emotions hit me; sadness, happiness, struggle, love, resentment...

That quote describes my 8-year-old daughter, and her love for life and pretty things and the juicy fruits that come with celebrating all the things. And sometimes I hear myself condemning her joy, instead of encouraging it. I value responsibly and "getting things done" over enjoyment.

My reaction to the quote was, So you want the life of a child.

In my head it was said with disgust and judgement. That can't be the life of a responsible adult. You either take life seriously and win, or you play all day and watch everything fall apart. 

And there it is. That's why I'm stressed, and struggle with depression, and why when I fight with my husband I cry, What do you want from me???

And with kindness he says, "I want you to enjoy your life."

You guys. There's so much in my life that's beautiful. Amazing. Blows me away. So much to celebrate, so much music to dance to, food to savor, people to hug, funny to laugh at.

So much.

And yet I tell myself "no" quite a bit. No, you can't have that. No, you can't enjoy that. No, you have work to do.

The other week, my husband came up to me and showed me this on his phone:

It made me laugh so much, and then my heart fell, because I really feel like that when I commiserate about the dishes, or really anything I "have" to do. 

Sometimes though, I stand in the middle of the mess, and remind myself that all the to-do's are my own doing. No one is there telling me what to do. No one is shaming me, or making me lists, or telling me I can't sit down and rest...

I'm doing it to myself. 

Gretchen read Isaiah 55, and focused on the first verse:

"Is anyone thirsty? 
Come and drink --
Even if you have no money!
Come, take your choice of wine or milk --
It's all free!"

The Lord calls us to Him. He calls us to rest, to enjoy, to be nourished. He calls us to have joy

Gretchen also encouraged us to do a few things if the "discipline of joy" was a struggle (*raises her hand*):

  • Get in the word -- it will change you! Begin in prayer, and think through what is hindering you.
  • Find moments to treasure -- they ARE there!
  • Start a gratitude journal; this helps us to look back and see the little things we ought to be thankful for.
  • Schedule or make time to find joy and celebrate moments; invest in your marriage, invest in your friendships, play music, enjoy your kids, and finally SLEEP and REST.

As we run around getting to-do's and lists completed this holiday season, when the home that we dreamed of and the family we prayed for is threatening to overwhelm us and drive us to the brink of insanity, let's remember to take a moment and...


Don't do the dishes. Order pizza. Sit on the couch with your kids and watch "Elf" for the tenth time, or throw your brood in the minivan and go look at Christmas lights.

Do something that brings you joy. Do something that makes you laugh, eat food you love, give yourself permission to take a breather. 

Trust that God, in all his goodness, will not allow your life to fall into pieces while you enjoy a moment of peace. He's got you. And you are loved. 

Be blessed, ladies. And Merry Christmas to you. 

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