How to Find Joy in the Storm
This is so hard. I know. If you are new here and don't know my story or struggle that I am writing about, you can visit it HERE.
I am not necessarily a pessimist or a glass half empty kind of person, but when I am going through hard things that seem to be lurking around- It is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I also tend to wrestle and nit pick each individual aspect of a problem while attempting to solve it on my own. I don't like to open up and be vulnerable because I am a cryer and when I feel things, crying is my reaction. for. everything. And I tend to get really upset at myself for crying. I definitely don't feel like it is a sign of weakness for other people to cry, but I definitely hate it when I cry. When I was a little girl, I would do everything in my power to stuff the crying. I bit my lower lip, hard. Sniff it away and stuff it. Be tough. I have very vivid memories of being around 5 years old and I was in trouble for something and I was doing these tactics to stop from crying and I remember my mom said to me, "Missy, you can cry." I don't think I cried. But as an adult, and especially after dealing with some emotional trauma, my two reactions are anger and crying.
Is There Joy in the Storm?
I truly believe there is something good that can be found if we are open and willing to see it. Do you know how long I suffered in silence before I could see any joy? Too long. And do you know how long it took me to feel joy once I decided to look for the joy? Not long.
Many of you are walking through hard things. The rip-your-guts-out-because-that-would-feel-better-than-the-emotional-pain kind of pain. A big part of me held onto the pain because it felt safe, but that was a lie. A BIG FAT LIE. Me holding onto the pain was the most destructive thing that trickled into every aspect of my life. I strained relationships with the people that were the closest to me, I shut people away because being around anyone made me have to come to terms with some of my hang ups (that I was in no place to deal with), and I was really hard on my kids for just being kids. Once I started dealing with the layers and attending a few sessions of counseling and EMDR therapy, the heaviness lifted and allowed me space to make some real change.
There was no greater feeling than to search for moments of joy because after awhile it felt so freeing. Not that a few moments of searching for joy here or there miraculously made me wholehearted all of a sudden, it is definitely a process and a learned practice- that I STILL have to go through. But what started to happen was the chains I felt bound by would one-by-one start to bust off of me.
All it Takes is A Mustard Seed
This is where having any form of faith will carry you through the storm. Our minds are incredibly powerful. It can be the source of our biggest struggles and our biggest victories, based on the conversations we have with ourselves. When we speak to ourselves, it tends to be more negative than most people would say to your face. Let's stop doing that. The miraculous thing about having faith in yourself while in the midst of a struggle is that it doesn't take monumental amounts of faith. It can literally be as small as a mustard seed. The only kicker is that it must be real. You must really mean it. I have attempted many times to have fake faith in myself countless times and it worked out 0% of the time. The "fake it until you make it" rhetoric sounds nice, but when it comes to you overcoming something as dark as guilt, shame, grief, betrayal, sadness, depression, etc. this 'fake it til you make it' mentality just pushes people away, makes you feel more lonely than ever. That is an absolute recipe for disaster- in my experience- when trying to get back to a place in the light again. Sometimes that tunnel is super dark and there seems to be no light at the end. Keep walking. Keep looking for moments of joy everywhere you go. I kept a journal and I wrote positive affirmations to myself everyday. Here is an example of the things I would write:
- There is a purpose to this pain
- God saved Ellie. How will He use that to heal others?
- You are loved
- You are enough
- You are worth it
- Soften your walls
- Let people in
Then I would list the moments of joy that I found at the end of that day. Some days were blank- too many than I would like to admit. Other days it would be the sound of my son's laugh, the sunrise, the sunset, the smell of fragrant grass or a flower, rain, hot air balloons, my husband coming home from work after a long stretch, freshly washed sheets-- to name a few. That last one just elicited a joy response just by typing it! I absolutely love crisp clean sheets!!
Keep Walking and Pray
I promise if you are committed to seeing joy, you will. It may take some time, longer than you might like. Have faith, keep walking, write positive affirmations, look for the joy, and pray.