When my husband and I were living in North Dakota, I attended a Twitter party hosted by (in)courage. After staring at that glowing backlit screen in the dark of our office, I visited their website, rabbit-trailed on their contributors sites, and ended up at Gitzen Girl’s. I stayed up for hours, reading through her entire backlog of posts. I was fascinated by her story, her life, her humor and her faith. She ministered to me deeply during a lonely time in my life, and when she died in 2011 I felt like I lost a friend.
Fast forward five years… Now I write with (in)courage. I work for (in)courage. I share real-life moments here, I’ve gained three kids, we’ve moved states, and I’m still learning to choose joy from Sara.
My friend Mary knew Sara well. She’s taken Sara’s words and with them has co-authored a beautiful book called Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts. I’m thrilled to welcome Mary here today with an excerpt. Enjoy!
One of the lines in my blog’s About Me section reads, “This blog is about me, my life, my disease and learning to adapt to the changes life throws at all of us.”
When I read it again recently, the concept just didn’t sit right with me anymore. I remember typing it and believing it, but over the course of writing the blog my perspective changed greatly. To me, adapting now feels a bit like a negative concept, like God and I have different ideas about my life, and by adapting I’m begrudgingly adjusting my view rather than surrendering to His. I’ve learned through the trial and error of life that I don’t want to adapt anymore.
I’ve spent the last fifteen years watching my life, as I knew it and as I dreamed it to be, slip from my grasp. I lived a number of those years fighting with all of my might to hang on to every piece I could. I adapted sparingly because I had to, but I didn’t like it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Having a bit of spunk is a good thing, but the intention behind the spunkiness matters. I wasn’t fighting to maintain my life because I thought it was in God’s plan for me. I didn’t push myself because it was in my physical or mental best interest. I fought because I was stubborn and wanted my life to be the one I had planned. I was adapting as a compromise between my desires and His.
And there should be no compromising when it comes to God’s purpose.
So, I’ve changed my thinking – and it changed my heart.
Just as much as I would embrace a miracle of healing with open arms, I choose to embrace all that comes into my life the same way. I’ve learned to embrace the pain. Embrace the solitude. Embrace the constantly changing plan of my day as my pain and energy levels fluctuate.
Trust me when I tell you I still have hope. If some miracle happens tomorrow I am going to embrace it with every fiber of my being. But I also have to equally embrace the not-so-fun stuff. If this is my life, if this is where I am, then this is where God is, too. And if I’m wasting all my time and energy trying to pretend the future doesn’t look like it does, then I’m wasting God’s time as well. I know I need to face what life is looking like now so I can accept it, hand it to Him, and find joy in the midst of it.
I’ve stopped trying to adapt between what I want and what I have – and I’ve learned instead to want what I’m given. By removing the expectations I placed on my life, I’ve come to appreciate the moments He’s entrusted to me. It doesn’t make the journey easy. But it does make it worthwhile.
I see every moment of my life now, both the difficult and the joyful, as moment to be embraced. Because I know that God is in the middle of all of them. He is in the center of my storms and my blessings. He sees it all with eyes that know and understand and foresee the purpose of my situation. And I want what He wants.
So I no longer adapt, compromise or adjust. I surrender. I simply trust that whatever is in front of me at any given moment, He is in the center of it.
And there’s no place else I’d rather be.
Do you ever find yourself adapting to circumstances? What would it take for you to embrace them instead?
If you enjoyed this excerpt from Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts, you can learn more about the book and its authors at TheChooseJoyBook.com.
Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She writes about her imperfect life with humor and honesty, encouraging women to give up on perfect and get on with life, at www.givinguponperfect.com. Mary is the co-author of a new book called, Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. Released by the Hachette Book Group in 2016, CHOOSE JOY is a must-have for those searching for meaning and beauty in a world full of tragedy. Sara’s words breathe with vitality and life, and her stories will inspire smiles, tears, and the desire to choose joy. To learn more about CHOOSE JOY, visit TheChooseJoyBook.com.