Uhgg. My brain is dead. My brain is dried out. Crispy. If you grabbed my brain with your hand right now, it would disintegrate; a thousand brain crumbs would fall from your palm to the ground. There’s no juice there, people. I’ve got no flow.
I think it’s this back to school business.
You’d think that someone with no flow would have the good sense to stop writing. Well, I don’t care if I’ve got nothing to say. I’m going to say it anyway.
Where do you suppose you’re going to find wisdom like what I just said there, if I quit writing?
What’s that? You think I’m kind of like a public servant, and you admire my bravery for writing even when I got nothin’?
Woah. Do me a favor. Don’t repeat that. I’m shy about getting attention, and more than a little modest. I’m appalled by the thought of making up pretend conversations in a blog to flatter myself. That’s sick stuff.
On the last day of summer, my head was brimming with ideas, inspiration and enthusiasm. I actually wrote out a few of my thoughts, and saved them for when I had time to write.
Where did all the enthusiasm go?
Do you remember I told you that I was meeting with a group of women this summer? We read the book, “How to Choose Joy When Happiness isn’t Enough”, by Kay Warren. We finished our book club at breakfast on the last day of summer. I was inspired by this book, and I think the other women were too.
Isn’t it funny? And, by “funny”, I mean super irritating. Within a week of finishing this book, and feeling like I understand how to access real joy and contentment, I find myself struggling to remember what I learned.
Maybe if I tell you what I learned, it will help me remember:
There is practical wisdom in this book, I couldn’t begin to remember everything I thought was useful. I’m definitely keeping this book to refer to later.
I’m going to just tell you two ideas that impacted me the most. The first idea is probably something you already know: Joy can NOT exist in the absence of gratitude. Here’s something interesting about the group of women who read this book. We all seemed to agree that the older we get, the mores successful we have become at seeing small stuff. Is that just across the board, a true fact about aging? Or, was our group unique?
Here’s how it works for me: I thank God for how soft my sweater feels against my skin, for the thick cream in my coffee, and for SURE, I thank him for this huge tree I walk by almost every day at lunch. I see that tree. I stop for a few moments to just take the tree in with my eyes. I thank God for being so kind to make that tree, and for the power he has to create something as big, and beautiful as that tree. Seeing that tree elevates my mood.
I know. I’m well on my way to being a crazy ol’ lady. We learned that joy grows more easily in a heart fertile with gratitude. It’s easy to be grateful, if we start breaking life down to all the details.
The other important part of this book was what I would call the author’s overarching theme. If you walk away from reading this book without understanding this part of the author’s message, then you may want to consider a reread. This is it. This is what Kay Warren is trying to say God has impressed upon her heart to share: Joy is a choice.
The author stated this in a hundred different ways. But, I understood her to say that I am an active participant in my ability to obtain joy and contentment in a life guaranteed to be filled with its share of sadness and pain. The author didn’t just tell us it was our choice, and leave at that though. She gave us tools and insight on how to go about choosing joy.
One of the women in our group has a tremendous challenge in her life. She didn’t ask for the challenge, it was given to her. In one of our first meetings, this woman said something like, “Oh, choose Joy. That sounds simple. I’ve got to wake up tomorrow and face complicated and grueling decisions and tasks, but I’ll just start singing “Amazing Grace”, and choose joy, and then I’ll be all zippedy doo da…life is sure grand.”
I paraphrased what my friend said, but you get the idea. I thought my friend made a GREAT point. When she said that, I was really hoping Kay Warren had something profound to share. Because anything I said, I’d be whipping right out of my big, fat hiney.
I had squat on that huge life question. All’s I really had was the dumb idea to have the book club. That’s where my ideas ended.
Whew! Kay Warren DID have her sister’s back. She had some good ideas that were practical, useful and inspiring. By the end of the book, we all felt like we had learned some things to take along with us in our lives. It was a good book. I recommend it.
Here’s the brave book club. Our numbers started bigger than this, but do you remember how busy summer is? Brutal. I was grateful to have even one other person, besides me, by the end of the summer.
I have had more on my mind than choosing joy. I have been thinking about living big. At least, I was, before back to school crushed the thinking out of me.
This lady I like shared this passage from Corinthians on Instagram the other day:
Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life.We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!
This passage speaks to me. The smallness I feel comes from within me, but I’m not meant to live a small life. God is asking me with great affection to live a BIG LIFE.
Am I reading that right? I hope I am.
I think what I’m hearing is that I’m NOT to live in obedience to my insecurities, or focus on my shortcomings. I’m not to withdraw, or hold back, or create a facade to hide me. All that is small.
For me, living a big life is measured in terms of my investment in people; encouraging, serving, loving the people I was dropped in next to on Earth. Does it get bigger than that? I can’t let my smallness stop me from living a big life. How thrilling that I don’t have to. A big life sounds super fun. I like fun.
I did this first book club/Bible study feeling very, very small. I am small. I know it. I’m not a good book/Bible study leader. That’s not false modesty. I promise I hold this belief with every ounce of my soul. There are times I laughed at my ineptitude. I had to laugh, because the other option is feeling crummy about what I lack. I don’t like feeling crummy.
I’m so glad I’m not letting the reality of my smallness stop me from living big. God says, don’t do it, Mik! He calls me, Mik. We’re just like that. It’s an inside joke.
If you’re a woman, I’m inviting you to live big with me. We’re doing another book club/Bible study this fall. We’re meeting every other Sunday evening at 5pm. Location tbd. Somewhere around Prairie du Sac.
If you live in Pakistan, India or Switzerland, and you read my blog, may God bless you like mad. Wow. How did that happen? I so wish you could join us, so we could ask you about Pakistan and stuff. Perhaps you could live big, and start your own study where you live, and we can do this in tandem?
We’re shooting for a start date of Oct 4th. We have not made a final decision on the book yet, but it will definitely be a book written to inspire us, and to help us grow in our Christian faith. If you’re sort of iffy on the Christian stuff and church, but you’re intrigued, I wouldn’t let that stop you. I’m not much for feeling like people all have to agree on everything to help each other grow.
If you start, and decide it’s not for you, I don’t get hurt feelings. It’s a gift.
I’m excited to live big.