I think I really realized today how much my joy matters.
My joy matters. Mine.
I knew, of course, that it mattered for me.
You know, how “Choosing Joy” is always available as an attitude that will, inevitably, make my own personal day immensely better.
Duh, on that one… although I still confess that I have NOT made that choice on many occasions. It’s always an option, but I still choose wallowing in self-pity, stress, resentment, and/or exhaustion, justtonameafew, many more days than I care to admit.
But what dawned on me today, with more depth and clarity than ever before, is how much my joy matters to my family.
You know the saying,
“If Momma ain’t happy, aint nobody happy….”
and of course, you know how very true it is.
But to be honest, I’ve usually heard it as more of a threat to the rest of the family than as any form of encouragement to Mommas themselves.
Like, You kids better behave or you’ll make Mom mad, and you know if Momma ain’t happy….”
Or, Husbands, you’d best be bending over backward to meet your wife’s every whim, or else….because you know if Momma ain’t happy….”
Until today, I didn’t really see any problem with that.
I didn’t see any real problem with making my happiness as the Momma everybody else’s problem.
It’s not particularly uncommon to have that kind of selfishness or victim mentality reinforced in our culture today. The media and commercialism seem rather bent on keeping us convinced that our happiness is everyone and everything else’s problem but our own. More things will make us happy, a different president would make us happy, a newer car, more food, you know the drill.
But wait. Even my political rabbit trail smacks a little bit of victimhood, doesn’t it? It’s their fault that it took me so long to realize I’m responsible! Oops. Maybe I’m just a little embarrassed at all this immaturity in myself. I’ve been on a self-disclosure binge lately…. I suppose I’m just getting really desperate (and really excited!) for personal growth. For growing up and leaning IN to life and making a difference.
So anyway. I’ve had this incredible epiphany that MY JOY MATTERS. It matters so much.
It matters to my girl. She can sense when I am out of sorts. When I am lost in unpleasant places. She usually tells me this with more “acting out,” and confirms it when she’s back to all smiles after I snap back into connection and joy.
And it matters, so much more than I knew before, to my husband. Sure, he’s an adult. He’s entirely responsible for choosing his own joy, too, I know. But marriage is two people. Two hearts giving 100%. Two lives laid down and lifted up for and with and by the other. And my joy matters to our marriage. I’m still trying to figure out where my joy went, exactly, for these past months. Was it just the challenges of our living circumstances? Post-partum depression hanging on? Loneliness?
Probably yes to all three, but regardless of where it went, it was gone. Gone too long.
And then it was back.
It wasn’t all in one choice, but it was definitely chosen.
A little bit of asking for help, a little bit of connection restored in relationships, a little bit of moving to a new place…. a lot of self-reflection and praying for a new heart.
And it came back.
And oh, my goodness….. does my joy matter.
I can’t do justice to the change in my marriage. In my husband’s peace. And yes, in my little lady’s contentment, too.
Communication is way easier. Way, way, WAY easier. Like the door just seems to stay open for discussion. Joy does that.
Stress is easier. Because teamwork happens and neither of us feel alone in our battles. Joy does that.
Growth is easier. Because I know, and he knows, we both want what’s good, and we both believe that good is up ahead. Joy does that.
Conflict is even easier. Because we’re coming from a place of connection and dipping into a little trial, and it’s that much easier to fight for each other instead of fighting against each other. Joy does that.
Specifically, my joy does that.
My joy says to my husband, “You’re a success. Your family is healthy, and your wife believes in you.” That makes a difference that words cannot describe.
My joy says to my baby, “You’re safe, and the world is a good place, and you can be confident in it.”
I think my joy is the best gift I could every bring to my home.
The most important contribution I could make to my family.
And the delicious part is this: It’s like this beautiful, contagious cycle! The more I choose to bring joy, the more fun we have, the more hope we feel, the more smiles we exchange, the more joy I receive.
So that saying?
“If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”?
I don’t think it’s supposed to be a threat.
A warning that everybody else should behave so Momma stays happy.
I think it’s an observation that Mommas have been given an incredible power.
And with great power comes great responsibility.
I think we Mommas have this great, wonderful, very significant gift of power to be the biggest gauge of joy in our whole family.
If Momma ain’t happy…If Momma’s Joy-Power is turned off… The whole house lacks joy-power.
But when Momma chooses joy?
It’s like a tidal wave.
The Joy-Power sweeps over our whole family, and changes the entire atmosphere of our home.
That might just be the best Momma-identity I’ve ever discovered.
My joy matters.
What on earth could be more empowering, beautiful, and significant than that?