“Sometimes people come into your life for a moment, a day, or a lifetime. It matters not the time they spent with you but how they impacted your life in that time.”
I have always enjoyed reading. I love how simple words on a page can come together and create a story in which I can become completely immersed. I am often drawn to mysteries or historical fiction, but over time I have really come to value the information that I glean from a good biography. I respect the writers’ transparency and willingness to share their lives with others. I also appreciate the bits and pieces that impact my heart and find a permanent place within me.
Several years ago I found myself in the book section of our local DOLLAR GENERAL store. Because of my love for books, I guess you could say that I am a frequent flyer to this section of the store. I love the idea of finding a great book to read and only paying a dollar for it. On this day, I was drawn to a book simply because of its cover. It had the word JOY written across it in big letters as well as a small picture of a woman holding a cute dog. I didn’t read the inside cover so I had no clue what the book was about, but I knew that it would look great on my bookshelf. That is exactly where it sat, unread, for the next year. Little did I know that this book would have a profound impact on my life.
When I purchased the book I didn’t take notice of the full title. I simply saw the word JOY and assumed it was some sort of book about being happy. When I became ill and found myself at home with little to do, I went to my bookshelf and pulled out this book to read. Being in the midst of my illness the title now took on a whole new meaning. The book that has impacted me and my life in so many positive ways is Choose Joy - Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts. It was written by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver.
Sara Frankl knew that she had a terminal disease but she didn’t let it stop her from living. Her life was filled with immeasurable pain but she chose to live her life in joy. Her book is a compilation of the lessons that she learned while she was dying and they convey an unforgettable message of hope and purpose. Her words teach us that once we learn how to choose joy, whatever circumstance we are in, our lives will then be filled with it.
There was so much of her book that resonated with me. I knew that it had impacted me but didn’t I realize the magnitude of it until I re-opened the book two years later. When I first read the book I highlighted the sections that spoke to my heart. I wrote notes in the margins. When I look back at them, I realize just how many of Sara’s lessons I have now incorporated into my life. Even though we had never met, her words influenced my life in an amazingly positive way.
One sentence in her book that I have highlighted and underlined is, “What we tend to forget is that we created the idea of fairness.” I wrestled with the “unfairness” of my illness for a long time. I know that life is not supposed to be perfect and that we all will face trials and tribulations, but somehow I felt that I should be exempt. The words Sara wrote helped me to realize that life wasn’t designed to be fair. Living my life with joy doesn’t leave space for me to get wrapped up in the unfairness of it. I just need to live it joyfully.
When I first became ill, setting goals for my life wasn’t even a blip on my radar. I was too self absorbed in just getting through each day. I fell into a cycle of good days and bad days. On the good days I would resume my life as close to normal that I possibly could. That normal would wear me back down and the cycle would start all over again. Sarah spoke of the idea of setting goals to help to break this never ending cycle. By setting goals I would be able to find a balance in my life.
Balance is a contributor to finding joy. I have this section of her book highlighted and as I look back at it I am struck by how many of the goals she created are now the ones that I have adopted into my life as well. To live the best life that I can with what I have been given. To be aware and present in each and every moment. To love what I have and not yearn for what I lack. To spread joy rather than fear. To be intentional in everything that I do.
Although Sara is no longer with us, her words continue to touch people’s hearts. She is a perfect example of what it looks like to be impactful. She inspired me to find joy in my life and encouraged me to not be afraid to use my testimony to impact others. I will be forever grateful for this wonderful little book that cost me one dollar. The lessons I learned from it are priceless!
For today - Choose Joy!
What are three words/phrases that come to mind when you think of joy?
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