Have you had trouble holding on to your joy lately? Maybe you feel like you lost it a long time ago — you can’t remember where you last found it…
Sometimes it seems like there are are so many things (or even people) in our lives — trying to steal our joy from us.
And we don’t help ourselves, when we choose to hold on tight to the all negativity, the stress, the worry, all those anxious thoughts and nagging fears.
Suddenly everywhere we look, we see more reasons to be miserable and unhappy. It becomes a vicious cycle — a series of self-fulfilling prophecies.
It reminds me of a story my dad once told me. (This is my version of it.)
Two young girls — sisters — were ecstatic to hear they’d be spending the summer with their grandparents on the family farm, way out in the country. All that fresh air and sunshine and fun! Grandma had promised that they could help her plant her garden and that she’d teach them how to bake her world-famous flaky biscuits. After some cajoling, Grandpa promised they could help him with the animals — just like real farmhands!
But the day he let them come to work with him wasn’t quite what they expected. Maintaining a farm, taking care of animals is hard work! It was still early in the morning, when they found themselves standing in the barn, facing a mountain of… well… poop.
Grandpa handed them shovels and told them where it all needed to go. Just then, he was called away to another part of the farm — some kind of emergency with one of the cows.
The first sister stared at the great, stinking heap and burst into tears. She had wanted to be a real farmhand — but not if it meant this!!!
“It’s not fair… this is too hard… I don’t want to do this!” she cried, as she ran back to the house and into Grandma’s arms.
Four hours later, Grandpa returned to the barn — where he was astonished to find the second sister working away at the mountain of manure. She was filthy and her little hands were covered in blisters. But she had a smile on her face — she was even humming a cheerful little song.
When he asked her why she was still there, still working so hard — why she hadn’t gotten bored or given up or thrown a tantrum like her sister and run away — she said:
“With all this poop, there’s gotta be a pony in here somewhere!”
I don’t know about you, but I’ve faced a lot of poop lately. Stuff at home, stuff at work, stuff at church. Financial stuff, health stuff. Friends-and-family stuff. Big stuff and little stuff. Some of it just aggravating or frustrating, some of it disappointing, even heartbreaking.
This week, I’m reminding myself to keep my eyes open for the pony!
I’m making a choice.
I’m choosing to let go of the worry and fear and negativity and misery I feel over my circumstances — sothat my hands are free to grab and hold on to my joy.
I find that joy by looking for the blessings, the gifts in the midst of it all. Gifts that God promises are really there. Things to learn and grow on. Things to be thankful for — so very many of those. And things that point me to and keep me dependent on Him.
I’ve even got a little purple pony (a Happy Meal toy) I keep on my desk to remind me not to let the poop get the better of me.
Whatever comes my way today, I’m going to face it with shovel in hand, ready to get to work. Because I know there’s gotta be a pony in there somewhere! And that pony is mine…