Have you ever felt sorry for yourself, and then, to snap yourself out of it, you think about how so many others have it so much worse than you? Yeah, that’s me too. I compare my suffering to those who seem to have it so much worse than me, and at the same time, I equally compare my joy to those who seem to have it so much better than me. Ugh, why am I like this?
After taking a deep dive to find the root of this problem, I have stumbled upon some wisdom: simply put, joy can’t come from our circumstances. Joy must come from within, and I find that in my relationship with God (but that doesn’t mean that I always have it). It is more of a practice of harnessing joy rather than a constant state of being. When I was in college, I did some counseling (more of us should look into that; getting help for dealing with our emotions is totally normal), and as awkward as it was for the twenty-two-year-old me to face the past that caused some current pains it was so worth it!
It all started with a small group study of Lysa Terkeurst’s book Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions. From her book description on Amazon, “Lysa TerKeurst admits that she, like most women, has experiences where others bump into her “happy” causing her to come emotionally unglued.” I didn’t know this was me until after the first group meeting. I sat on the edge of the group, smugly judging the other women for how they could feel comfortable and even happy to be opening up when all I could find inside was anger and frustration. I had more raw emotions waiting to come unglued than I knew what to do with, so I decided I would quit the group and just move on. This is how all great matters are solved, right? As my family likes to say “water under the bridge.” I was convinced this would work for me, so when the next meeting came up I conveniently double-booked myself so I didn’t have to attend. In my mind, the problem was solved and the lid to my emotional mess was firmly on containing the monsters within. Thankfully, and by the true grace of God, a friend peer pressured me enough to come back to the small group study.
Reluctantly I attended and continued judging the other women internally while externally promising to read the book and discuss next week in our new “safe space.” I couldn’t trust the “safe space” with my raw and unglued emotions, but I did commit to reading the book so I guess I could do that and see how things go. In the quiet moments of my reading, I began to identify with the unglued girl on the page. It was time for a change. My journey through this book at twenty-two was extremely raw because this was the first time I had ever given myself permission to deal with my emotions and not let them be swept away like water under a bridge. I have since sat with this book and my unglued emotions at many different points in my life. Each time I chip away at different areas of my life that I had previously blamed on someone or something else for my frustration.
For me, finding joy was the freedom in addressing what emotional monsters I was carrying around. It is still a practice (sometimes by the hour) to work through the anger, frustration, and hurt to find the place where I live in a state of joy. I have had to work through my unglued moments on postpartum depression and anxiety, and the beast that was my breastfeeding journey. I continue to work to get to the root of my unglued emotions that cause me to compare and be jealous when my business isn’t going how I think it should or I don’t feel like I’m doing enough as a mom. I am a work in progress towards becoming totally unglued to my emotional hang-ups. Is it time for you to come unglued too?