Embracing Joy 🦋

Joy has been the subject of God’s lessons all week, so I wasn’t surprised that the service at The River of Life this morning was about just that.

I’ve been reading “Daring Greatly” this week and was taken aback by the notion of foreboding joy being a common shield against vulnerability.

Brene Brown describes her findings in Chapter 4.

“…having spent several years studying what it means to feel joyful, I’d argue that joy is probably the most difficult emotion to really feel. Why? Because when we lose the ability or willingness to be vulnerable, joy becomes something we approach with deep foreboding. This shift from our younger self’s greeting of joy with unalloyed delight happens slowly and outside of our awareness.”

I completely connected to the notion of foreboding joy as she described her own experiences and the experiences of the people she interviewed. When something wonderful happens or all is going very well, I begin to think something bad is getting ready to happen. It’s a ridiculous notion, but I was clearly guilty of putting up the foreboding joy shield to protect myself from vulnerability.

The good news is that hearing her describe her struggles helped me see my struggles in a new light. She goes on to give hope to those of us who are guilty of worrying that the other shoe is about to drop.

“Once we make the connection between vulnerability and joy, the answer is pretty straightforward: We’re trying to beat vulnerability to the punch. We don’t want to be blindsided by hurt. We don’t want to be caught off-guard, so we literally practice being devastated or never move from self-elected disappointment.”

She goes on to say that our culture assists in the doom and gloom scenarios we rehearse. Awareness is the first step to change, so I was overjoyed this morning as I sat by the river and had a sweet talk with God about my foreboding joy shield.

He has always known about it, and He and I both know it’s forged in fear. We both know that fear doesn’t feed on the vulnerable; it feeds on those who think they need a shield. It was freeing to let the river sweep away my shield this morning as I thanked God for lessons learned.

Brene Brown says, “While I was initially taken aback by the relationship between joy and vulnerability, it now makes perfect sense to me, and I can see why gratitude would be the antidote to foreboding joy.” 

So do I! I plan to practice gratitude and embrace all the joy that comes into my life 🦋

Joy on the River 8-26-18

# MeToo

My first real job was selling tickets at a brand new movie theater in a mall near my home. I was sixteen and felt like an adult for the first time in my life. I took my job seriously and was determined to do it well.

The Terrace was the perfect place to work. I not only got paid to sit and sell tickets, I also got two free passes to all the theaters in town. I could see every new movie as many times as I wanted. I saw True Grit sixteen times!

As if that weren’t enough to satisfy this new independent woman’s heart, I could also have all the popcorn and soda my skinny little body could consume. That was far more than you might imagine. I think they might have lost money with that perk!

I loved my job, and I did it well. Counting money was no problem for me, and giving change was second nature. I had it made and could not believe such good fortune had befallen me. My disillusioned dream state was disrupted one evening as I headed upstairs to tally the totals for the night.

My boss was not a nice man, so everyone steered clear of him whenever possible. He had an ugly mole on his face and combed his gray hair over his balding head. He told inappropriate jokes and had a tendency to leer at the girls. I ignored him and did my job, but I could not ignore him when it was time to count money.

I usually followed him upstairs after the last movie began, but on this particular evening, he insisted on my going up first. I was taught that ladies should always go first, so I thought perhaps my boss had a change of heart and was just being polite until his grubby hand made its way up my dress and rested on my behind.

I spun around and told my boss that if he ever touched me again, I would tell my daddy. I also described what my father’s reaction would be. My speech was fervent and filled with vivid imagery. Since my boss did not want his teeth or other essential appendages to end up on the floor, he began apologizing with a tone and manner I had never seen in him before.

He walked upstairs ahead of me after that, and I gained a sweet sense of empowerment. Like a predator who had mistaken a young rattlesnake for a timid milk snake, my boss quickly dropped his prey and never made the same mistake again.

I’ve often wondered if I should have told my parents about my dirty old boss. I think daddy would have been proud of the way I handled the situation. He would not, however, be proud of the way I handled other predators who made their way into my path.

It’s funny how I had more courage at sixteen than I had in my twenties and fifties. If I had always taken the same approach as that empowered young teen, my journey would have been much different. The attention #MeToo is getting caused me to pause and think about the importance of seeing predators for what they are and standing up to them as my sixteen-year-old self did.

God has been trying to get me to see the light, and someone else having the courage to turn on their own light helped me to do just that. It’s not easy to shine a light on predators who are in positions that make preying easy for them. Bosses, mentors, teachers, coaches, ministers, family members, and trusted friends cross lines and make standing up to them difficult or impossible. I admire those who stand up even when their predators have the power, money, and influence to destroy them.

Katherine Kendall was Harvey Weinstein’s first victim to be heard, not the first to speak out. She says she was 23 when he convinced her to come to his apartment. He has allegedly been behaving in a predatory fashion for decades. It breaks my heart that so many were possibly hurt by him, knowing that no amount of money or vengeance will ever bring back the person his victims were before encountering him. One is never the same after an encounter with a predator. The body may survive the encounter, but the spirit and heart are rarely repaired.

Evil’s greatest power is its ability to pass itself off as good, and no one is better at doing that than a predator. Weinstein has won numerous awards, has been hailed as a genius, and has been courted by politicians and other powerful players. He is getting a taste of how powerlessness affects the human soul. If he is guilty, I pray he finds the opportunity to reflect upon how many people he put in that same position. It’s not for me to judge Weinstein or any of the predators in my path. That is reserved for God. I can, however, stand up with confidence to those who see me as less than God created me to be and tell them they will have to deal with my Daddy if they mess with me.

The Right Setting

I was brought up to believe that women were inferior to men. In fact, my father had a saying, “Water is the second most destructive force in all of nature!” which begged the question, “What’s the first?” He would laugh and say, “Women!” He also had a list of occupations suitable for women. It included housewife, secretary, nurse, and teacher. I wonder at times how I came from childhood with any sanity! I suppose Pollyanna and Joan Rivers helped me wade through the muck.

The world has always struggled with a woman’s place, and I’ve wondered at the worry that is wasted over such nonsense. I know fear sits at the center of the worry, and I do wish that men and women could both see the importance of making God’s presence the priority rather than trying to find the proper setting for women or men. The right setting for men and women is at God’s feet. The jockeying for positions closer to the feet only hurt the work and take away from the worship.

If we look to Christ for our answers, He made it clear that the last would be first. Women were definitely forced into the background when He walked the earth. He had a different attitude that is obvious in all the gospels. He saw only the hearts of those around Him and didn’t divide. Christ brings oneness and unity that puts all of us in the proper setting.

When I saw the beautiful gold heart at the jewelers yesterday, I knew it was the right setting for my diamond. God used the rings to remind me that He wants the right setting for my heart, as well. My heart has been in wrong settings all my life, and I’ve put it on the shelf and left it hidden to protect it from further hurt. The beautiful lessons this week gave me the desire for a new setting. I can leave the diamond on a shelf and my heart hidden, then neither will be what God has in mind for them. I marvel at how God uses all things for my good:)

Hearts need to be loved, and diamonds should be worn. I love that I will soon have a beautiful reminder of that on my right hand:) The jeweler explained that the right setting is essential and the right placement even more important. He was very serious about his work, and I could hear God as he talked to me about wanting the setting to be just right before making the placement. I imagined God looking over me with the same concern. I could even see Him with a jeweler’s eyeglass looking deeply into my heart with the same excitement of the jeweler with whom I entrusted my diamond. I smiled and imagine the jeweler wondered what I was thinking. I was thinking it was such a relief to have someone else setting my diamond and even better to have God setting my heart:)

Ann Voskamp was part of the learning this week. Here’s a beautiful post from her that helped me see myself in God’s light.

The Song of the Women