Birth of the Blog
If you know me personally, you likely know a thing or two about the car accident I was in two years ago. On February 23rd, 2018, I was involved in a car accident that should have killed me. This accident was life changing for so many reasons. I feel like it is important to talk about it because the accident and the year leading up to it really cultivated and birthed “Consider it Joy”. So, let’s talk about a few facts surrounding the accident that may be known to some, but not others. First, surviving the accident in general was a miracle. My car spun around an unknown number of times before it slid backwards perfectly between a telephone pole and another pole. Later, the officer from the scene visited me to share two pieces of information: 1. If I would have struck either of the poles, given the severity of the accident and the damage, I would have likely died on impact. 2. The distance between the two poles I went between was so small that if someone had tried to consciously back a car between them, it would have been nearly impossible. As if we had not already known that me surviving was pure grace, this information confirmed that me surviving was a miracle. I had a handful of injuries to overcome, but the most severe was my pelvic bone being broken in four places. It took me almost three full months to learn how to walk again and I spent a lot of that time in a wheel chair or in bed. Like most traumatic events, the accident occurred at probably the worst possible time. I had only been married nine months and we were still figuring life out. My husband and I were still learning how to be independent and enjoying our first year of marriage. Since I was in school, I was only working part time and I had to leave my job which left us newly married, still learning and with only one income. I was in my final stretch of college, so a life changing accident seemed so unfair because graduation was so close. My husband and I were just beginning the process of fully taking over as youth pastors and even that had to be put on hold while we learned how to live with our temporary normal. It seemed like everything came to a screeching halt. And the word devastated does not even begin to describe how I felt.
I gave myself three days. Three days to deal with all the negative feelings and bitterness. Three days to ask all the “why me” and “what now” questions my little heart could handle. And then I made the purposeful decision to leave those feelings behind. I knew I needed to choose joy through this unfair situation because I deserved that. I deserved to experience genuine joy during what seemed like the darkest time. After those three days, my mind shifted. I cried everyday for probably a month. This was not a cry of sadness or anger, it was a cry of thankfulness and praise. And here is why: I knew the accident and everything that came with it would produce growth as long as I chose to let myself grow. I keep saying “leading up to the accident” and really there are so many things that fall under that umbrella, but I want to focus on just a couple. The first is that the semester prior to my accident, I took a class with a professor that changed my life. I know she was sent by God. The semester before the accident, she actually convinced me to add an English minor to my studies because she was impressed with my writing. Writing has always been my passion (hence the blog), but I was always too afraid to pursue it. She pushed me and took me under her wing. The next semester, I enrolled in another class with her because I felt connected to her. Something told me that she was meant to be part of my life. And then the accident happened. I had to drop some classes because they could not be finished online and most of my professors were not willing or able to help. I was facing pushing out my graduation, dropping out for the semester and having to pay the school for my dropped classes. This amazing, beautiful woman came to my home weekly for the rest of the semester so I could receive credit for her course and finish without dropping out or paying the school. She is the reason I graduated on time (and strutted across that stage in heels!) and she is a big reason for my pursuit of writing. I share this because sometimes we can be so blinded by our emotions during hardship that we do not even see all the areas we are being set up for success. When I enrolled in my first class with this professor, I did not know she would be so important during the most difficult time of my life. I can think of tons of examples that cushioned the blow of this punch from life that I would have been blind to had I decided to wallow in the sadness. Be cautious; you have to understand that emotional tunnel vision is real.
Secondly, about a year before the accident, I taught a message to our youth group about choosing joy through struggles. I wanted our teens to understand that you can be sad, mad and anything else but still keep your joy. And then I really had to live what I preached on a whole new level. This sparked the blog. I want to be very clear about something: joy and happiness are not the same. Happiness is emotional; it can waiver and it will fail you. Happiness is fleeting. You are allowed to experience all sorts of emotions as a human being. You can be happy, sad, mad, excited and so forth. Throughout my pursuit of joy, I experience all of those emotions. There were days where I told God, “Lord, I am so mad right now, but this joy will not move. I am so unhappy in this moment, but I refuse to let this joy slip away”. And being transparent, there are days where I did not say it in such a nice way. Happiness is always contingent on something that is not constant. This is why, if you rely on your natural feelings of happiness to bring you fulfillment, you are setting yourself up for heartbreak. What makes you happy is not what makes others happy and what makes you happy today might not make you happy tomorrow. Your joy, however, has to be anchored. For me, joy does not come from my husband, my circumstances, what I have, or even the ability to walk. Joy, for me, is rooted in God. And because I know that God is never changing, never failing and never emotion-driven, I am giving that back to Him as much as humanly possible. When I experience my rollercoaster of emotions, joy will be the tracks that never move and that carries me along. I owe that to myself. And you owe that to yourself. You deserve to experience joy that will be your safety net when everything else seems to be crumbling around you.
I want to leave you with the scripture that the blog stands on. James 1:2-4 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”. For you, it may not be an accident. It may be losing a loved one, failure, poverty, sickness, rejection or an endless list of junk the enemy tries to break us with. Whatever trials you are going through, use it as an opportunity for growth. That is the take away from all of this. Your struggle is producing something mighty in you. It is a launching pad to elevate you. I do not agree with “God will not give you more than you can handle” because the reality is that this life IS more than we can handle. He does give us more than we can handle and that is why we need Him. So that when we go through life and we experience those troubles, we desire joy and we pursue the joy He has for us. And in that pursuit, even in the middle of the storm, we will lack nothing. Your joy is what will keep you. So, let’s find it together.
Love and joy,