When Joy is Hard to Come By

I’m a little late in the game (no pun intended).

My husband and I just started watching Friday Night Lights. For the longest time, I refused to lay eyes on the show. I grew up in West Texas, and the Odessa Permian Panthers (the Dillon Panthers in the show) were probably our biggest rival. My sophomore year, at a basketball game, as I was going up for a lay up, a very fast Panther power forward threw her arm into my back and slammed me into a cinderblock wall which messed my knee up badly enough I had to go to physical therapy for a year and couldn’t play basketball competitively anymore. Not watching Friday Night Lights was my boycott, my personal commitment to not give anything Panther related a second of my time.

But then we started. And you guys, if you haven’t watched Friday Night Lights and you have Amazon Prime or Netflix, just go. Take a six-week leave of absence and dive in.

Friday Night LIghts

Enough of that.

(But really, go watch it).

Last night, one of the characters (the QB1, or starting quarter back), Matt, had a really bad day. I won’t go into it all, but everything that could possibly go wrong, did. I think we’ve all had days like that. You maybe don’t feel the best, you get the phone call that something bad has happened, you don’t get any sleep, you were so late for church you ended up staying home, you drop everything on the floor, you lose your keys, a friend isn’t responding to you, your dog is sick, you feel like you’re a fake at your work, you take it all out on your spouse with angry crossed arms and irrational accusations.

If that isn’t you, I can assure you that the things I just described happened to me in the last three days.

Please don’t hear that as a pity party. I had my pity party. I’m okay.

But you are not alone when you’re so stressed, you want to change your name and move to Malaysia.

My mini-crises ended up with my husband loving me so beyond what I deserved, that my façade of toughness and meanness broke. Tears spilled out with words of my perceived truth. And I use the phrase “my perceived truth” because once I actually spoke my fears, my hurts, and what the voices in my head were telling me, I started to see them as the lies they were. And if I didn’t see something as a lie, Tim was there to gently direct me back to find truth again.

I was lucky. I haven’t had someone with me every time I’ve found myself so far away from joy, but in the last few years, I’ve learned something about when this happens.

  • Don’t ever drink more than a couple of glasses of wine
  • Talk to someone anyway

The death of a brilliant actor looms over us all, a life cut too short by an addiction to something that brings a deep sense of peace. That’s why we escape. When we look in our faces and minds and spirits and hearts and we’re far away from the God who loves us and His truth, when the pain feels like a red-hot black hole inside our chest, we want to escape it. Some do it with needles, others run into the arms of a one-night stand. I’ve used alcohol and food and sleep to run away before.

Photo by Vincepal

In 2011, I was physically sick from my anxiety. I layed down on cool tiles of a hotel bathroom floor in Orlando at 3 am, finally finding the courage to reach out a couple hours later. A few weeks earlier, I asked a small group of people to be my friends. It sounds clunky and unsexy, but it’s one of the best decisions I made.

Asking someone to be a friend is one thing. Telling them when you’re lost and hurting is another.

Pushing through awkward words and my greatest fear of rejection, I reached out. I got help. I was a weighty, heavy, burdened and hurt girl and I needed to be carried. My friends carried me. I could lean on them.

If you’re in that place today where you can tangibly feel the pain of lost joy searing you, or perhaps you’re so far beyond hurting that you’ve numbed yourself into apathy, please reach out.

We worry that we’re going to be a burden to someone. Here’s the catch. Not one of us is a burden.

Are the things we’re going through burdens? Maybe. But you, a person, are not a burden. You are flesh and blood and skin and bone and pain and hurt and yes, even joy. There is joy for you and you may have to fight through ten thousand armies of evil to see it again.

But you don’t have to fight alone.

 

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11 thoughts on “When Joy is Hard to Come By

  1. Anne,
    Thank you for putting words to the way that I’ve felt so many times. I now know that so many people have felt this same way. The loneliness of those moments are enough to crush the soul and spirit of anyone. Reaching out to people and asking them for help is one of the hardest and most humbling experiences of my life. For most of my life I learned to accept the lies in my head as truth about who I was. What a sad way to live. You were right on when you said that the moment you started telling Tim the lies that were in your head you were able to see the absurdity of them and see those thoughts for what they truly were…LIES. I’m slowly learning to voice my thoughts to my husband. I trust him with the innermost thoughts of my soul now. That is HUGE. Sometimes just voicing the thoughts is enough to expose them as lies and sometimes it takes the wisdom of my husband to expose them. Regardless, I feel that most people who deal with these kinds of things NEED someone to talk to. Someone they trust so that they don’t have to live a life believing lies. Thank you so much for sharing this publicly! You are doing the work of the Lord and I’m so grateful to have your blog for encouragement.

    Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose
    (I had to get that in there!)

  2. You never cease to amaze me with your depth of vulnerability, your willingness to spill it all so that others may know the exuberant life you have come to know–are coming to know. And your incisive, poetic language carries it in deep. I am very glad there is you, my friend.

  3. Anne, dear sister in Christ, you’ve whacked me again. Too familiar with the feeling, as you well know. I just wish I could get past it as you have. Also wish I could’ve been there for you in Orlando, as that’s about 80 miles from me.