I’m reading chapter three of Fight Back With Joy: Celebrate More. Regret Less. Stare Down Your Greatest Fears by Margaret Feinberg, and one line stops me cold.
She’s describing the first treatment of chemotherapy to deal with her breast cancer. She discovers it’s not as bad as she expected (the “bad” comes later, she says). But still there are effects, and she applies some wisdom to her situation, deciding the pile of colorful laundry doesn’t have to be done immediately.
She considers the Apostle Paul, and his affliction. Whatever it was, it was serious enough for Paul to keep asking God to take it away. God doesn’t. And it’s okay. “For Paul,” Feinberg writes, accepting his circumstances is the secret to being content in them.”
And then the line that stops me cold.
“The journey to joy begins with acceptance.”
My mind goes immediately to my work, the work that has brought me little if any joy in the past four years. The “little if any joy” has played a role in my upcoming retirement.
And I think:
I arrive at work on Monday, and am almost immediately hit with not one but two joy killers. One is a chronic and recurring event; the other is one I’d call acute and one-time.
Last Friday, I would have narrowed my eyes, frowned, and said something choice, if true. My blood pressure would have risen. I would have felt my back start to act up.
On Monday, after reading Feinberg’s chapter the night before, I paused. I considered. I told myself I had been beating my head against the same wall for years, with nothing to show for it except aggravation, indigestion and stress on my back. It’s one of the reasons I’m retiring.
Acceptance. Joy. Acceptance. Joy.
I let both situations go.
I made some suggestions, but I let them go.
If the world comes to an end as a result, I thought, well then, the world will just have to come to an end. Somehow, I think the world will survive.
Did I immediately experience my physical being flooded with warmth and joy?
No, I can’t say that I did.
But what I did experience was a sense of calm. I’ll take calm.
Calm is good.
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’re reading Fight Back with Joy. To see more posts on this chapter, “Three Simple Words to Set You Free,” please visit Jason at Connecting to Impact.
Photograph by George Hodan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.