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Making a List and Checking it Twice (Choose Joy)

 Some of the best advice I heard about moving is to focus on what is good about where you are. This is solid counsel, and applicable to both temporal and geographic contentment. The pandemic provides endless opportunities for discontent, particularly comparison to how things used to be. But perspective is powerful. 

I could think about snow, which reminds me that Summer is by far my least favorite season (especially in pregnancy), we don’t have a yard/lawn/parks, and the kids have been stuck inside for months (and now can’t go three minutes without fighting). We can’t bake Christmas cookies because we made the difficult but correct decision not to have an oven in our 90 degree kitchen. Our kids miss soccer, gym class, running, and having friends. And if my thoughts go in that direction, my jaw tenses up and frustration mounts. 

Or I could think about how we have everything we need and so many things we want. A huge fan blowing. Christmas music streaming on internet better than we often had in the US. Appliances that add minimal heat to our kitchen. Sweets that can be made without an oven. A Muppet Christmas Carol on the docket for tonight. Healthy kids. Laughter. Less laundry because the kids wear little besides underwear. Vitamins. A varied diet. A hardworking, loving husband. Running water. A water filter. Meaningful work, daily opportunities to give out of the excess we have been given, and a loving Father. Many people across the world whose love and support make possible our life here. A functioning body and mind. New life inside of me. Grace upon grace. Fresh mercies every morning. This list is actually easier to make, and in short order I am overflowing with thanks for the life God gave me. Here. Now. 

We consider ourselves victims or privileged primarily based on our standard of comparison or entitlement. Social media exacerbates the problem, because the people we are close to usually have similar SES and only share the best aspects of their lives online. Imagine if we were fortunate enough to be online friends with people working hard to keep food on their tables in a war-torn country or to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds of survival (though these demographics don’t have much time to stage Instagram shoots). Would staying home seem less like a burden? In homes that have luxuries others can only imagine? When we are mindful of how much we have been given, we are better givers. And happier people. Make the right list today. Choose joy. 


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