I remember her well. So many years ago, so many cities ago, we sat in a meeting and exchanged ideas. It was a room of dreamers. Well, except for her.
Each idea was met with immediate criticism. She vetoed any new concept before it could even finish being spoken. And when it was time for lunch, she quickly exited the room, sending the signal she would rather eat alone.
Days later, I had a conversation with her that changed my negative perception.
She shared how hard it had been since her husband passed away a few years prior. She spoke of how lonely it was to raise their children without his gentle touch. And she admitted that she really just tries to make it through each day.
She was surviving instead of thriving.
Of course, it’s hard to thrive when you’re in the thickness of grief. But sometimes we don’t know how thick it’s gotten until someone lovingly encourages us to step into the light.
After all, it’s our own light that can be used to illuminate the light found in others.
I would like to tell you we had a transformational conversation and who knows? Maybe seeds were planted. I’ve lost touch with her as it’s been several years since we last worked together. However, she did seem lighter after sharing her heart and honestly, it wasn’t anything I said. I just merely listened.
Later in the day, I realized it was actually me that has control over allowing joy-stealers to really steal my joy. If we give others permission to control how we feel, we’ll never be stable. Our roots will be shallow and sway with the wind.
Instead of giving others permission to steal our joy, how about giving them admission to our joy?
Joy is contagious – but so is bitterness.
We get to choose.
This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.
– Jeremiah 17:5-8 (NIV)