Where To Find Joy…

I kind of feel like I cheated a bit in my last blog post, tempting the masses with a title that hinted of a deep life lesson and then delivered basically diddlysquat. This time, I have good follow through with my title.

A few weeks ago I was dealing with the feelings. You know, those pesky things. I was beginning a transition and was struggling to feel a song in my heart. Where was my joy? I could see that the things the transition would bring to me would also bring blessing and sweetness, but in that moment, it felt bittersweet.

It was all baker’s chocolate and no cupcake.

As a child it only took one time to learn this lesson. I tip toed into the kitchen. I climbed up on the counter. I opened that orange box. I slid out the gold foil and unwrapped the smooth dark baker’s chocolate. I broke off a piece and ready for all the wonder that could be had in a house which kept a good eye on our sugar intake. I had accessed the holy grail. I had found real chocolate when it wasn’t a holiday!! And then I bit down.

Betrayal. That’s as best as I can describe the flavor. Lies and deceit and betrayal in a mouthful of what even is this and why did I do this?

A number of years later, my grandmother taught me how to use a double broiler and to add sugar and a little milk to make a nice chocolate syrup useful for dipping frozen bananas. But that first bite never left my tastebuds. There are moments in our lives that are just baker’s chocolate. It’s all ingredients and isn’t ready for us to stick our finger in and taste. But the further along the recipe develops, the better it becomes.

Earlier this week, I went to talk to someone, but couldn’t find them. I did however find myself standing in just the right spot to see the morning sun breaking and shining off of the nearby cornfield, with farm houses and barns popping up here and there. I was cheered by the sight.

As the hours past, over and over things tickled me. I laughed and laughed, in a way I haven’t laughed in a long time, so hard that tears came again and again. It ached in my stomach where I have some lingering pain from the appendectomy as the laughter sank deep down through my body down to the soles of my feet. The laughter made me solid and stable, firm in my foundation, strengthening me.

That afternoon I had the opportunity to choose to use a sharp word to prove a point or to lay aside that ever present need I have to show that I’m right, and just be kind. I had spent the day laughing. I had seen real beauty. I had felt a change and growth in those simple moments. What would it serve for me to tear down someone else in an effort to be right when I could try to lift them up instead.

In that moment of decision, it was no struggle to decide which was better. I would lie if I said this has always been the pattern of my life. I am well aware of my ability to use just 5 or 6 words to slice at someone and step myself over top of them where they lay. But after cornfields and cracking up, after the gift of these simple pleasures, it was no effort at all to smile and offer an easy word in a kind voice. I turned and where the laughter had bound my body together, making me feel whole and sure, the smiling lifted me off the floor, light and…..joyful.

It has been a few months of bakers chocolate. Adding things that are not always pleasant into the recipe, knowing that the end will be sweeter than anything I could have come up with on my own. This past Monday, something went off in the oven and I pulled out my first cupcake.

I am getting ready this morning to head out into the day, kids by my side, to find adventure and the mundane, sunflowers and Sharp Shopper are the plan of my day. I am free not only to do the weekend with my kids fully focused on them, a drastic change from the state of my weekends just a year ago, but also filled with cornfields and laughter, and smiles for people with the grumps.

I see a lot of advice out there telling people, “If you aren’t happy in your situation, change it.” I want to offer this.

If you aren’t happy in your situation, be willing to be changed.

You can stay just a bar of bitter bakers chocolate. Or you can allow sweetness into your life and be made into something so much better.

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