Two months ago I was supposed to be in Scotland.
I was supposed to have so many new memories, an album of new pictures on my phone, and inside jokes with my sister and grandparents who were going with me. But as you know, all of life came to a halt in the middle of March. Everything was altered and is still very much changed.
However, one thing that hasn’t changed is our ability to choose our response to situations.
In life, we have innumerable choices we can make. Some are important and others are simpler—yet one of the most important is how we choose to respond to life’s circumstances. I will be the first to tell you that I was the emotional child of the family—the kid who made sure the entire house knew when I was upset. My dad has called me passionate, and while that is true, I will forever go down in history with my family as the “door slammer.” When I was mad, it was a choice to be truly mad and I would let my rage get out of control.
Thank goodness this has been chipped away with maturity, but the importance of choice is still there. Did you know that you can choose joy? I mean actually choose to be joyful—to be positive, to not let circumstances sway your response?
If you have never read Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s book, The Power of Positive Thinking, I highly recommend it. It’s a Biblical perspective on the true essence of being positive and what it does to your life. In this book, he writes, “The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.”
Scatter sunshine. Isn’t that such a wonderful phrase?
I think we can all agree that some days we scatter sunshine and other days we spread rain. I’ve been guilty of spreading torrential downpours on those I love most. Can you agree?
When I found out that travel from Europe to the US was closed due to COVID-19, my first response was anger. There was so much frustration. You see, I was supposed to board that plane to Scotland within 18 hours. We were that close to leaving. My bag was packed, and I was ready—until it suddenly didn’t matter anymore.
It was disappointment, but as the clouds parted there was a choice to be made. I could mope and remain angry about it, or I could choose to see the bright side, the positive side. I wish I could tell you this was an immediate transformation of thinking, but it took time. I had to remind myself of the good things, the blessings.2020 has been completely different than what I expected, but you know what I want to remember about it? The simple things. The conversations over Zoom with friends, online Bible studies, laughing with siblings, talking to my grandparents for an hour on the phone, and finally breaking through a long period of writer’s block. That’s what I’m going to focus on. That and the fact that when I finally do get to go back to Scotland, those highlands are going to look all the sweeter for the journey it took to get there.
Now my little example of disappointed hopes is nothing compared to the pain others are going through. It’s nothing, and yet the response to those hurtful circumstances must be the same. Joy. For joy can exist in pain.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4
Choosing joy is not ignorance of the situation. Instead, it is deciding to stand firmly in the presence of the One who is good. God is always good. Always.
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! – Psalm 27: 13-14
So today, no matter when you are reading this, take a moment to choose joy. Right now, close your eyes, pray and choose to be joyful. It is amazing how we can decide to be joyful—holding firm to God even though all else might not seem praise worthy.
Now, raise your hands in praise, and smile, knowing He is in control. And now… go ahead, and together, let’s scatter sunshine.
“When you get up in the morning, you have two choices – either to be happy or to be unhappy. Just choose to be happy” ― Norman Vincent Peale