Written by: Shari Grayczyk
Have you ever had someone or something try to rip the joy right out from under your feet?
Someone who begins the day with, “You don’t look very good,” on a day when you are feeling great and thinking you look the same?
Someone who actually notices your new haircut, asks you if you have just gotten it cut, and when you say, “Yes,” just says, “Oh!”
Goodness! Why do some people just have the need to steal someone else’s happy? I just don’t know.
I love my happy joy, and I want to keep it forever.
So, my life was meandering along just fine until I came home from work. I was tired, content and just happy to be home after an extremely busy day. Did I just say, ‘extremely busy,’ because I meant to say, ‘manic, excessively and intensively busy?’ After work, I ran a few errands and came home to my ever cheerful Lab/Husky/Shepherd mix-Domino, my Golden Retriever/Great Pyrenees mix-Koda, my Mini-Dachshund-Apollo, and my Teacup Yorkie-Buttons. After all of the, ‘Mom’s home. Let’s go wild,’ stuff, I was in the process of letting them outside, when Domino took off running.
So…..I started calling him. I thought, he’s a former Certified Therapy Dog, trained and bred to be compliant and obedient, so obviously, he’ll immediately come home.
Whenever my daughter, Joy, lets him out, he runs for a few minutes and then dutifully returns to the back porch. She even lets him out, unhindered, and returns inside knowing that her pooch will return in just a few.
And so I waited.
I decided to exude some confidence and go inside for a minute. I wouldn’t want him to think that I didn’t trust him.
I got Koda’s brush out and began brushing his long (and shedding) fur coat.
Joy’s adorable pooch had not duly returned.
No. My mongrel was out and about the neighborhood, carousing and doing God only knows what. The high was only 34 degrees, but that was when the sun was actually shining. I personally think that the Husky (another word for Snow Dog or Eskimio) in Domino knew it was about 10 degrees colder than that and just wanted to steal my7 joy.
Rip it right out from under my snow boots.
Well, guess what. He just about did.
I eventually put on my gloves and headband (love the Nike runner’s headband, even though I hate running), meandered outside and began calling him. With snow and mud all over, you would think that I would have been able to follow his footprints.
Nope. This dog apparently had done a hot jiggity jig upon his escape from the yard because there were paw prints everywhere.
In both directions.
I called my daughter, Bethany, whining and saying that I couldn’t find Domino, and it had been quite some time, and yes, I was getting worried, and….and…..
I was letting this tail wager steal my joy, and I knew it.
Thank God, I suddenly happened to spot Domino down the street. This was only after I pulled my car out of the garage, and of course, the garage door wouldn’t shut. So, I left it open. He was running in circles, tinkling on someone’s bushes, all the while a man was throwing things at him and yelling for him to go home. Talk about Domino stealing someone’s joy. I doubt he had much to steal even before my mongrel arrived to, ummmmmm, freshen his bushes.
Yes, please go home, dog.
When Domino saw me, windows down, offering a treat, he started to run towards me. I hopped out and opened the passenger door, motioning for him to ‘jump in for a joy ride.’ He put his two front paws on the edge of the floorboard and decided, no, he would rather I chased him.
So….OK….my joy was getting pretty much depleted by now, as well as my energy, and any warm blood that had been circulating through my veins, was turning to ice about now. I proceeded to back my car all the way down the street, with Domino constantly running in front of it, sit taunting me to go ahead and hit him.
The mean girl in me was considering such, but that’s another story for another day.
Finally, we made it home, and he ran inside the garage. The door was already open because I couldn’t close it earlier. If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I’ve been suffering from a desperate need of someone to fix things. Well, with my joy nearing exhaustion, I pulled my car inside the garage, shut the door, and left him in the garage to think about what he had just done.
Mud and all.
The thought of bathing him was just about undoing me.
It totally served him right. Or so I thought. I mean, dog’s memories are just like mine. They can’t remember what they did ten minutes ago. Literally, one minute after I locked him in the garage to ‘think about his disobedience,’ my daughter, Bethany, came home, parked and opened the automatic garage door.
Well, it may not shut well, but it sure does open on command.
That joy stealer just took right off.
Out of the garage.
This time, he returned immediately.
After whining to Bethany about the entire ordeal and begging her to bathe Domino, I pondered.
Did I pass this test, or did I fail?
Did I succumb to throwing my hands up in the air and declaring my black and white mongrel the winner?
Did I yell and scream at him in anger (or just to get him running back home?)
The good girl side of me usually gives him a treat when he takes off on a neighborhood adventure and quickly returns home unscathed. But, the bad girl side of me locks him in the garage, even if it’s only for a moment.
The good girl side of me brushes him, and the bad girl side of me thinks, ‘let him suffer.’
Believe it or not, I actually passed this test.
Why? Because even though I was very frustrated, and my joy was virtually being taken from me, I didn’t lose all of it. I kept the good girl side of me almost totally intact. Sure, I was frustrated and locked him in the garage, but I didn’t yell at him. I didn’t even scold him.
Whew! That doesn’t mean I will pass the test next time.
And believe me, there will be a next time. Domino has a thing for a dog a few blocks away, and in the spring/summer, he loves just being around her. I know the ‘escape artist’ side of his otherwise passive personality will emerge time and time again this season and begin testing my good and bad girl sides.
The good girl side of me prays about it, while the bad girl inside me wants to fight him and just leave him outside—forget about looking for him altogether.
But then, the Holy Spirit intervenes and whispers in my ear, “Shari, don’t be frustrated. He’ll return. Don’t pitch a fit, yell, scream, threaten to kill him, run him over with the car (yes, that is an option, too, ya know), or return home with him and shut the door. You’ll regret it later.” And we all know that later comes more quickly as the years pass.
Spiritually and realistically, I know that situations cannot steal my joy unless I let them. Surely, a dog cannot steal my joy unless I let him. Even rude drivers, grumpy cashiers, subzero temperatures, muddy everything, broken garage doors, broken promises and long, exhausting days can’t steal my joy.
They can steal my stuff, but not my joy.
“I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
John 15:11 (NIV)
The Bible is very clear about this joy thing. God gave me joy, and He is not an Indian-giver. Nope. He gave it to me for eternity, and it’s most definitely a treasure.
I never realized just how much of a treasured gift it was until a few years ago.
A strong, Christian woman of God.
Overall Happy person.
And yet….I allowed my joy to be temporarily disbanded.
I can’t say, ‘stolen,’ because it wasn’t.
I allowed it to go into remission, a veritable hibernation.
Because I was focusing on my circumstances instead of on the prize.
I took my eye off the prize, but only for a moment.
Sure, the Lord allowed me time to grieve, but there was, and is, a difference between grieving and being in despair.
Once I began to remember God’s promises to me, memorize them, internalize them, and focus on them, my despair took a snooze, and my joy re-emerged.
For a time,
It was scary.
But only for a time.
The silver lining, hiding behind my joyless cloud, was there. I just had to find it. Surprisingly enough, it was really right in front of my nose, right where I had left it.
It never left me;
I had temporarily shelved it.
Left it on a dusty bookshelf to be retrieved at a later date.
Thank God, He, the Giver of the gift, reminded me to dust off the shelf and retrieve my gift. Whew!
Yes, when the bad and selfish girl wants to succumb, the good girl in me remembers one of God’s greatest gifts to me, and is totally, unequivocally, immensely, and amazingly joyful.
May you remember to tap into your God given joy today. May the good girl (or boy) in you consistently emerge amidst the chaos and frustrations of this world and when anyone and everyone is trying to steal your joy.
Be blessed and joyful, friend.