Thieves of Joy

The seasons change, children grow, gray hair appears all the more, and tragedies do not stop just because we have an added layer of masking and elections.  Our writers have been richly blessed but deeply reminded of our frailty during 2020.  We are all surviving by God’s grace through various hardships further complicated by COVID 19.  All this begs the question: How in the world can we cling to God’s grace when humanity rears its ugly head? 

In my family, for instance, we just went through a disrupted adoption.  We survived by holding onto God’s love in the midst of broken systems, violence, trauma, and unspeakable loss.  Honestly, my loss as a mother is unspeakable.  My hubby and I are both only children and started our parenting journey miraculously easily considering our health history.  We were satisfied with just our one beautiful boy.  But then, we lost our parents, my uncle, my grandmother, one after the other, and we thought our son should have a sibling.  Little did we know that the process would bring even  more loss.  

I can barely write about how much it hurts to miscarry multiple times, work on an adoption license for a year, find who we believed would be our daughter, love her fiercely, and then discover we are just not who she needs as her forever family.  I am not sure how to write the anger I feel toward the system that failed us, the fear I have for her future, and the sadness I feel that we failed.  What has come out of me has been those little nasty habits.  

I buried these painful feelings deep and mostly went through the motions steeled with poise, a screwed on smile, and a neatly written to do list.  I marched on in order to protect my son, my husband, myself, and her. Maintaining Mama Bear resolve required God’s supernatural strength. I felt Him leading me every step, but now I am so tired from the let down. 

Can I tell you some more of my truth?  2020 has revealed deeper layers of my sin, which makes me feel exposed and often ashamed of myself.  I have had to eat crow on many fronts and apologize daily to my husband.  My temper can still be short, and I have had to physically cry out to God to help me in my time of need.  I realize now that my nastiest patterns of bad behavior come out through knee-jerk reactions when our backs are against the wall.  So repentance requires a habit of praying for forgiveness every. single. time.  Repenting from pride, control, ambition, and jealousy has required me to continually turn back to God (and to folks who will tell me the truth, not just what I want to hear).  

At my worst, I am terrible about comparing myself to other people.  I am given to jealousy.  I focus on the little criticisms rather than accentuating the positives.  I want to fixate on the past and hold a grudge.  How can I choose to pause and pray when my own ugliness comes out?  I need my Teddy Roosevelts who will remind me that I am letting Thieves of Joy like comparison rob me.  Because as Laura said in her four year anniversary post, we need each other.  

Are any of your hearts hurting like mine?  We have posted far less often since March, because we have frankly been surviving, just like many of you.  I, for one, have allowed some Thieves of Joy to rob me of my writing: comparison on social media scrolls, mindless TV shows, and sleeping in have robbed me of deeper times with God and you all.  But, now is the time for gratitude. Now is the time to realize that although we have lost much, we are thankful for all we still have.  If you come out stronger, have the Thieves of Joy really stolen much? If you come out with your marriage, career, and healthy child intact, does that not show God’s faithfulness? 

As we enter Thanksgiving and Christmastime, I want to turn again toward God and truthseekers.  I want to take back what sin has stolen. I want to speak joy and truth rather than hover over my losses and anger from 2020.  One joy I find is in reading, and recently I stumbled on this quote from Jenna Bush Hager’s beloved Gampy in her new book: “Don’t forget to enjoy being in the game.”  Let’s pray: Lord, please show us Your glory in the midst of ugliness.  Do not let us allow Thieves of Joy to rob us from enjoying the game we are called to play here on Earth.  Be our ever present help. Give us supernatural energy.  Be the joy we speak each day.  In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

To all our readers who have been personally affected by COVID-19, we have been praying for you.  Other members of our TtT writing team have gone through moving homes, job changes, surgeries, and supporting family members through divorce.  What have you been going through, Mamas?  What have been some of your survival tools? Send a DM so we can specifically pray for you.  The writing team prays every Friday morning to text it out together.  

Love, Jo

Soaking in the Truth 

Scripture to encourage you:

  • “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1, ESV)
  • “But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to You. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” (Jonah 2:9, NIV)
  • “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.” (Psalm 28:7, ESV)

Music to inspire you:

Living Out the Truth 

Ideas to try:

Practically speaking, here are my best three tips for stealing back your joy: 

  • Say “it” out loud to your Teddies, whatever you’ve been keeping inside, and let them speak truth back to you. 
  • Plan time for something you enjoy and put it on your calendar so you keep your promise to yourself to really do it. 
  • Let yourself feel negative emotions.  Just because we are leaders as moms does not mean we are not allowed to show more than a happy face.  Find a way to safely let your sadness, anger, grief, jealousy, or hurt out of you.

Resources to come alongside you:

  • Brene Brown Podcast 
  • Ann Voskamp One Thousand Gifts Website
  • Replanted: Faith Based Support for Adoptive & Foster Families Book 

{These suggestions are ideas from novice moms. Sometimes our life situations need more.  In that case, seeking out professional help is the right call.}