Sunday, July 1, 2012

Keeping My JOY When Family Life is Difficult

I have been thinking a lot about joy lately. JOY. That’s not a word used very often today. We talk about being happy or good. “Yeah, I’m good.” But joyous? Doesn’t the word ‘joyous’ evoke something different inside you? When I think about how it is to be ‘joyous’ I feel like it’s something I really REALLY want; like it’s more than just being happy or content or fulfilled. Like it’s all three of those things plus more.

My emotions can be so up and down. One week, I feel empowered, optimistic, strong. I conquer the world, take care of the kids - one in a high chair and helpless, the other in a wheelchair and helpless - feeding them breakfast, lunch & dinner; entertaining them; developing lesson plans for home-schooling while on summer break; giving infusions and administering medications; scheduling all the doctor appointments for all the various doctors they each have. I cook; do the laundry; go to the grocery store; I try to be a good wife, a good friend, a good daughter.

Then, in a matter of a moment all of that rolls down the drain like dirty bath water and I am overwhelmed, feeble, exhausted. I can’t fathom getting organized enough to make myself coffee let alone getting breakfast going for the two of them. And then, when I have the both of them crying and needing my attention…? It’s all too easy to get sucked into the depressing role of the harried mom who hasn’t had a chance to shower, one needy baby on the hip, the other wanting to eat (but mom needs both hands free to feed her), the kitchen sink full of dishes and no food prepared for dinner for when hubby gets home from a long day’s work.  Just re-reading that is exasperating.


In 2007, I went through my “religious revolution”. I grew up catholic, went to catholic school K-8th grade, went to church, had my baptism, communion & confirmation like a good girl. After middle school we pretty much stopped going to church except for holidays but we were still believers, Pope-sters. But then, my daughter happened. A very uneventful pregnancy turned into a Nightmare on Hospital Road (the hospital she was born at is actually on such named road!). My just-barely-under-the-radar anger I had developed starting around the age of 15 or so exploded and I was on the attack against anyone, including God Himself. Oh, I cursed Him; hated Him. How could He let this happen?? What did I do?? What did SHE do??? Why, why, WHY?!? Long story short, I was very hateful and bitter and most of all depressed. A very deep and very real depression settled over me. It came in fast and furious, whooshing dust and dirt up around me in filthy clouds and like a betrothed lover, never left my side. It engulfed me. I walked this earth in the middle of this foul bubble; everyone could see me and I could see everyone else but I always had this grimy lens to look through. I always felt out of place. I would hear people laughing and see them having fun but I felt like I was juu- u- u-ust out of reach of having that for myself. This bubble would not let me out!
Then I finally opened the door to Jesus. He had been knocking and knocking, patiently waiting for me. And I felt brand new. Like a whole different person, truly. I wonder still how in the world did I survive all those years with so much pain in my heart. Truth be told, I almost didn’t. There was a close call in the middle there. But here I am still.


And I want to be joyous! I want to figure out a way to feel that joy as much as possible. During those “Why ME?!?” moments that can sometimes stretch into hours and days, I want to know how to find that joy. In John 16:22 we read that no one (or no circumstance) can take our joy from us. In other words, my life doesn’t have to work out the way I planned it to in order for me to be happy. Having two children with life-long chronic medical issues is upsetting, and there will be times that I will feel overwhelmed, but do I have to let it take my JOY from me? Can I let it go?

That’s a huge endeavor I’m asking of myself: let it go. Submit to God, bring my worries and anxiety to His altar and leave it there for Him to take. I think writing this is a beginning to me being able to do that. I work it out in my head and put it down on the proverbial paper. I also get some feedback from some of you and it’s a beginning.

So thanks for listening.


  1. Praise God, Melissa! I'm so happy you found your JOY! Yes, Christ is the answer and He will never leave you for forsake you! So glad and JOYFUL for you!

  2. Thank you so much Wendy! God bless

  3. This was very inspiring. I too have been there, under different circumstances, but praise God for his unfailing love. We're on our way lady! God bless and hold on to that joy, because the world can't give it and they sure cant take it away!

  4. Wow sister. very nice article story you have here. I'm so glad you are starting a new life in Christ now and this new foundation will help you overcome any type of troubles you encounter in the future. I pray that your faith and love for our Lord could become greater every day and never your spirit will put you in a lonely and dark depression state of mine ever again. I ask for our Father to bless your home, your marriage and your kids. I pray for a financial break thru and healing upon your family and I pray this in Jesus name.

  5. “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. As you think so shall you be.” -William James

  6. Whether you believe in God or not, there is no truer statement than this one, Phil.
    Before my revolution, my state of mind was angry, depressive, challenging. And so was my life. I often said that I couldn't wait to get through my 20's because nothing could've been harder to get through. Now that I'm in my 30's I realize that a lot of that decade could've been different. It's not easy to do sometimes (change your state of mind, that is). In fact, sometimes it's impossible. My daughter is my permanent heartbreak. It's still extremely difficult to not be emotional about what happened to her. Just writing that sentence sent my heart into flutters. But I know now that a better state of mind = a better state of life.