“I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.”
~ Neil Gaiman Ocean at the End of the Lane
Prior to speaking with a friend this morning, I was feeling anxious and heavy hearted. Greater things are crumbling daily. It’s troubling to see how polarized the United States has become; to see institutions we’ve taken for granted under assault. The institution of family, the moral fabric of society, the sanctity of the constitution – nothing is sacred. In our communities, young lives are being taken by violence and drugs. For anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear, these tragedies are difficult to process and hard to overcome. It makes us long for a simpler time, a childlike time, a time before carrying a spirit of anger and sorrow became the norm.
How do we rise above the pain and decay of this modern world? My friend has a lesson for us. She just found out she is facing a battle; a battle that countless others are fighting on a daily basis. It’s the same battle my mother fought. Like my mother, my friend is handling it with an incredible amount of courage and dignity. She isn’t wasting this beautiful day; she and her husband went to the market for fresh produce. She’s making great beans on the stove. She’s sitting on her deck, enjoying the sun, busy telling me how blessed she is in spite of the fact her own mother fought the same giant last year prior to entering the heavenly gates. This – my friends – is grace.
What do we do when it seems the world is crumbling around us? Here are 5 steps to take when you need joy and grace and you’re feeling overwhelmed by anxiety.
1. Enter the Secret Place. Your Secret Place is essential to maintain. This can be a small room, a covered porch, an upstairs corner – as long as it’s quiet.
2. Pray for peace. Peace is the first thing you pray for. In order to receive peace, you must get your mind quiet and surrender the cares of this world.
3. When your heart and mind are still, pray for guidance. Guidance for yourself and your decisions, guidance for your family members, guidance for your friends and neighbors. Pray for the needs of others.
4. Once you have prayed and released the burdens of the world (you aren’t meant to carry these), focus on the things that make you happy. You must look for and actively seek light and goodness.
5. If it’s good and pure, take joy in it. Everything from the weather, to the good news of others, to the blessings of and in your dwelling, to the beauty that still remains in the world.
My joy list for today: a clean upstairs. Clean laundry. Coffee and silence. My kids home, my kid out and about doing things. The sunshine. My barking dogs. Time to write. Time to rest. The salad I’m going to have for lunch.
What’s your joy list? Remember, the joy of the Lord is our strength. He is a very present help in trouble.
Many blessings on you always,
PS – A word for your week