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Finding Joy in Times of Fear and Uncertainty

By Annie Turner —

If you are at all like me, you are probably eating far too much, (“I NEED four cookies!”), maybe slipping in another glass of wine each night over your limit, doing retail therapy, and lying on the couch watching reruns of “Scrubs” or SNL.

Sigh. Also spending far too much time on social media, Facebook, Twitter, and obsessively reading breaking news from the New York Times. When I die of stress I am going to bring suit against the Times for causing it. Ah, maybe better to bring suit before I die.

This administration is downright scary. Some might say terrifying. Also illegal, going against the Constitution, tearing down democratic institutions, and flirting with autocracy. As the daughter of Marxists, I am finding it hard to keep a level head during this political climate. Ah, “climate” sounds too gentle. How about—“Sandstorm,” “Tornado,” “Tsunami,” or “Typhoon.” All of them together could describe how we have been tumbled, pushed, and assaulted during the last four months.

So, I am thinking about ways to keep joy alive during these times. You notice I don’t say “happiness,” because that is different from “joy.” As I understand it, happiness is a feeling you get when things are going wel;, you just dropped 4 pounds; your partner brought flowers and took you out to dinner; your kid learned to read, and more. Joy is not so much a feeling as it is a choice. As in—I choose to be joyful because my life is rooted in God. I choose to be joyful because I belong to a faith community which engages, supports, and strengthens me. I choose joy when I stand on my deck as the fat flakes spin down, holding my tongue out to them and wondering which geometric shape this particular one has. And that reminds me that the entire world, hell, the universe, is held in God’s hands—snowflakes, pigeons, dirty children, poor refugees, fat cats on Wall Street, annoying neighbors, whatever. All held.

It’s just that right now I am wondering about those hands and did God forsee the damage that was going to be done to our country and the world? Was he taking a bathroom break or searching for his cell phone, which he—like myself—is constantly misplacing?

Who knows? But back to joy and how we can choose joy even when our hearts are pounding and fear creeps up our spine to knock on our heads.

–I choose joy when I watch my Jack Russell terrier bound like a bird in flight after those darn squirrels. Such energy in those tiny legs!

–I choose joy when kneeling in church and the communion hymn is “Here I Am Lord.” I find kneeling conducive to joy. It reminds me how small I am and how not in control I am.

–I choose joy when I see millions of women in pink hats showing up for the biggest protest march in history in D.C. We are not alone! We have power! And darn, but I love those pink hats.

–I choose joy when I see pictures of my cousin’s new grandson, called “Mr. Cheeks” for his amazingly chubby cheeks. The generation continues—new lives are coming into the world.

–I choose joy when I listen to Bach, anything by Bach. The music thrums through my body, lifting me up. Sometimes music feels like the hand of God.

There are many other things I could note down, but you will have your own list. Making lists is a great thing to do when downhearted. It is sure to lift your mood and help you to see that all is not lost. These horrors will not have the last word. We are on it!

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