Thursday, May 16, 2013

The News vs. Joy

Joy is
1. a deep feeling or condition of happiness or contentment
2. something causing such a feeling; a source of happiness
3. an outward show of pleasure or delight; rejoicing

I've been working on cultivating JOY in my life.  Why "cultivating"?  Well, much like my weedy fallow garden (except for the pea bed which still has no sprouts) I need to plant and tend the particular things I want to grow in my life.

What!!  You mean my joy isn't contingent upon my circumstance? Well, it can be, but it doesn't have to be. It doesn't have to be.

I stopped watching the news.

When the elementary school shooting happened last winter, I couldn't watch. I was so stressed and overwhelmed by my own personal life. The stress of making family work when you are together for less that 1 hour per day was weighing on me. I wanted to remain joyful. I wanted to lack nothing.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 

So I chose to not watch. I chose to not read the articles, I stayed off Facebook, I wouldn't view the images.

I turned off the news.

This was a decision made out of the human need to shut off that which overwhelms our spirit. The interesting thing, though, was that while others were walking around in a daze, not understanding the world in which we live, I was able to avoid that feeling and was able to continue to tap the source of my joy. My own circumstances may not be as overwhelming as I think when I stop fighting other's battles and worrying about trials that haven't been given to me.

Now, I am not saying that we shouldn't care for those who are in the midst of trials, love them, help them if it is in our power. The Bible is clear, we are to help those in need.

But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? I John 3:17 

Is knowing about specific sins and people's personal trials all over the world, in radical media form, in real time something we are meant to know? I would suggest that it is not. I would argue that our human psyche is not capable of knowing it all and remaining healthy. All of the scripture I could find on helping others seemed to indicate face to face help. In community. Seeing a need. Filling it.

Nowhere in scripture are we instructed to seek out tragedy, obsess over it, fret about it, alter our lives to accommodate what our fragile psyches are telling us.

We are instructed to count our own trials for joy.

I have been literally counting them, the trials. I have been writing them down and praising God for them and there is joy there. I have been looking for ways to see a brother in need and fill that need. To bear burdens of friends, family and those I "do life" with. There are enough trials there to keep me busy.  I have kept away from sensational news stories. I am healthier for it. I can access the Grace being poured out on my own life and family when I am not burdened by the emotions surrounding literally everyone else's tragedy or struggle.

So, I challenge you to 3 things:

  1. Turn off the news for 1 week (or one month). See if has any effect on your heart and mind.
  2. Count your trials for joy. Write down those things that are painful, and hard. Thank God for them and for how He will use them for His glory. Don't just praise Him in the storm, praise Him for the storm!
  3. Read Anne Voskamp's book  One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.

I hate being scheduled to my breaking point. That is what life has been the past few months. I have hardly had time to come up for air. You know that feeling when there is light at the end of the tunnel? I can see the light, it's getting bigger and clearer every day and I feel relief. Peace.

We have made a huge decision in the past few weeks. Eden will not be attending the local public elementary school next year. I filed my Notice of Intent to Homeschool with the county's School Superintendent yesterday.

You may or may not know that we made the decision last year to put Eden in public school for the 2012-2013 school year. We didn't enjoy our homeschool experience. I really wanted to love having her "in school". I wanted to enjoy my "freedom" and let someone else do the hard work of educating her. I was already making plans to go back to school myself when Theo started Kindergarten! Funny thing about my plans... they rarely work out the way I plan them.

Long story short, public school didn't work out. There were many things that didn't work for us, but the  biggest was the schedule. Eden had to be in bed so early (in order to get up on time to catch the bus in the morning) and Brandon comes home from work so late, that they hardly saw each other. I also joined the PTA and volunteered to be the secretary. That was a huge time commitment in the evenings that further disrupted the family. I feel like our family life has been on hold for the past 9 months.

There are 9 1/2 school days left and that light is growing brighter. I'm getting my family back!

I'm working to figure out what we will do differently this time around. I feel a conviction about homeschooling this time, so that is helpful. Not having public school as a back-up means I have to do things well. I know a little bit more about Eden now, so I can work better to meet her needs. She has a bit of understanding about the requirement to get your work done after being in "real" school for a year. She is also a good reader now, which means she will be capable of at least some independent work.

I am terrified and excited and struggling with the lazy, undisciplined, whiny I dont' wanna part of myself. Tell me I'm not alone in that.