My Secret to Joy
by Carol McClain
Has life discouraged you? Does society seem strange? Have we normalized destructive behavior so that we’re confused if we can classify anything as right or wrong?
If the answer to any of these is yes, I’m not surprised. We’re awash with bad news: war, disease, inflation … I can add to the list, but I’d rather count my blessings than the downfalls of our era.
You don’t need any more of this. Neither do I. Life is short, and for me, definitely getting shorter faster than I like. I’m not flooded with despair. God granted me blessings piled on top of blessings, so instead of grousing, I decided to focus on joy.
But how does one see the good when so much is wrong?
This is an odd thing for this woman who was raised with my family’s Belorussian attitude of fatalism. Why hope for the best when you’re going to be stuck with the worst?
Balderdash. Here’s my epiphany on the day that joy finally became my go-to emotion.
On a frosty morning, I drove to my favorite hiking spot in our beautiful Smoky Mountains. I swerved around curves. A glorious stream flowed over rocks and cascaded downhill to my left. Narrow lanes and curving mountain roads caused me not to ogle the jaw-dropping beauty of the overarching rock face of the mountains. Here, icicles clung to the ledges and sparkled in the early morning sunlight.
I raced toward my mission late and fearful my tardiness would upset my hiking buddy. Besides, I’d seen the scenery this before.
As I approached Meigs Falls, two tourists stepped out of their car. With cameras poised, they shot pictures. The falls, in flood stage, roared gloriously. Only one car carrying two middle-aged tourists noticed the roaringly pristine view.
I hurried on, but what was I thinking?
Focused on my destination, I ignored the journey. Teal water falling, forever falling and never running dry, danced over slate-grey cliffs. Spray sparkled in the early morning. A canopy of rocks with water dancing over its ledges in the dawn should never become a humdrum appearance.
When my friends first showed me this waterfall, I found the scene a beauty worthy of continual photographs from every conceivable perspective. For many months, I strained to glimpse the falls. That day, though?
Why did I let my vision grow stale?
During this drive, my spirit finally absorbed my favorite scripture. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8, ESV).
A simile jumped to my mind as I thought, “If there is anything worthy of praise,” think about these things like a tourist.
As a visitor (as I am here on earth), I might never get this moment again. Life is fragile. I need to be ready—in season and out. Vacationers come prepared with cameras and clothing and maps. They search, look, and see. The friend I rushed to meet knows and loves me. She would understand if I were delayed. I needed to take my time, to forget the bad things and remember Philippians. I need to concentrate on what is lovely.
As I drove, I switched the radio from the news droning on about the latest crisis in politics and tuned into my favorite Christian station. My favorite group, For King and Country, sang “Joy.” The song made me want to dance because God is good, and I am blessed. I live. I’m loved. The world is beautiful.
So, dance I will.
Practice being a tourist. Focus on joy. You’ll find yourself dancing and singing even when your world falls apart.
Get to Know Carol:
Carol McClain is the award-winning author of four novels dealing with real people facing real problems. She is a consummate encourager, and no matter what your faith might look like, you will find compassion, humor and wisdom in her complexly layered, but ultimately readable work.
Aside from writing, she’s a skilled stained-glass artist, an avid hiker and photographer. She lives in East Tennessee. Her most recent interest are her two baby does Peanut & Buttercup. Like all babies, they love sitting on our laps and. Being bottle fed.
Check out her latest release Prodigal Lives:
Life keeps piling problems on Meredith Jaynes. She loses her second foster child—one she was scheduled to adopt. Then Parker Snow refuses to marry her. With only her goats and artisan soap to support her, life will get no better.
If she is honest, though, she still has Crystal. Her funny, happy, loveable toddler makes the sun shine and reminds her of the never-failing love of God.
Pearl Solomon loves her life with her grandfather Guy, but every one of her triumphs is overshadowed by her sisters’ lives. With Mama Meredith, they live a life she envies. Because of her jealousy, she refuses to contact them.
Years later, life for both families twist down paths they do not wish to travel. Pearl knows she’s lost what was most precious in life but has no means of fixing things. Left to her own devices, she spirals out of control.
Meredith finds it harder to mask the despair infertility has brought to her life.
Both families believe they must reconcile themselves to their fates as reality shatters their dreams unless they dig deep for the promise of love.
Buy it HERE.