Posted by: karanoel | March 19, 2020

Finding joy in the funk

You guys, how crazy is life right now?! My feelings during this pandemic have been all over the place, like a fish flopping around on the dock, trying to find my comfort zone  and breathe deeply again. An initial vague awareness of the disruption – a novel corona virus – turned into legitimate research to determine whether or not to cancel our trip to visit our sweet, high-risk Grammie. The mixed-information overload that followed stirred confusion and anxiety, which then morphed into fearless joy through prayer (when I remembered that anxiety is the result of trying to control what’s beyond my paygrade). In the end, wisdom, not fear, dictated the cancellation of our trip and I felt like I was back to normal, happy me. Phew! 

So we bought a little extra food and settled in as the silver-lining part of myself anticipated school closures like it was a global snow day, providing us time to play with all our friends. Until growing restrictions – and the wisdom of flattening the curve – said differently. And more people were getting sick. And dying. And companies, including my husband’s, were taking major hits. And there was hardly anything left on store shelves. On top of all that, Chase and I had been non-pandemic-sick for what seemed like forever. Would we ever get better? And why wouldn’t the forecast stop with all this freaking rain??? We live in Southern California for heaven’s sake! Could it get any more oppressive?

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local store

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my backyard

In the midst of the chaos, news and restrictions, it was hard not to notice all the beauty taking place. My neighborhood rallied to cover needs and extend community to each other, from six feet away, with a big heart and a sense of oneness. I gleefully read of money being raised for those whose workplaces had been closed down; of people in Italy singing from their balconies; of friends or even strangers offering to run errands for more vulnerable populations; of families spending unprecedented time together with no clock to race against. Light shines brightest in the darkness, doesn’t it?

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my amazing neighbors

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play doh playtime with my boy

Even so, a slight funk settled over me. I didn’t curl up in bed with the shades down or anything, but I was having trouble feeling settled in the upheaval, with my rhythm knocked off and the limitations of favorite indulgences (like, ironically, alone time). Life returning to normal would bring relief (and, believe me, I would welcome it!), but I know it’s not what I actually need. As said by Sam Storm, “Joy is not necessarily the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God.” Yep, it’s the presence of God I need. That’s where the unfailing joy is… always. And, honestly, there’s no better way to realize this than through difficult times, uncertainty, upheavals, suffering.

I don’t need to look beyond my own life for proof. This year has brought an overwhelming sense of joy. I can hardly contain it sometimes. It’s also brought the new and thrilling freedom of finally appreciating who God made me to be and of wanting to whole-heartedly engage in this beautiful life I’ve been given. I’ve told John, “It feels like my life is just beginning!” This really makes no sense in light of losing my son. You’d think I’d just have to grind it out for the rest of my years. But here is the truth. This joy and freedom has not come in spite of my suffering, but because of it. Why? Because the immense pain revealed my desperate and immediate need for the Lord. I couldn’t survive without Him. This I knew. And I don’t just mean a sweet little moment with Him to start my day, but for His presence to dwell in me, every moment, to overwhelm the hurt and bring comfort; to wrap me up in love and speak the truth I thirsted for. It required an intimate relationship of invitation and trust. I did it for survival. Joy just happened to be the ridiculously enjoyable, life-changing byproduct. 

While these current circumstances look insignificant in comparison, I’m finding myself thirsty for His presence. So I cried out to Him yesterday to enter into my funk with me. I blared worship music in the car, singing along off key, with a voice still husky and crackling from my cold. And do you know what? My heart was already lighter this morning. So I will keep on seeking His presence, His heart and His purposes for this season. I’m guessing that the seeds planted as He responds to this invitation (as He always does with all His people) are going to further establish my joy, completely independent of the fickle beast of circumstances, and produce the most beautiful, life-changing things on the other side. 

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If you have felt the weight of these current times too, would you join me in seeking Him?


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