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Life is funny.  Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, I learn something new.  Or, maybe it’s more of relearning what I forgot.  The realization that what I think I’ve mastered is only a small blip on the radar of my life.

It’s been a challenging year.  For a woman who prides herself on focusing on all that is good, I’ve struggled to find my footing over the last several months.  Why?  Because I forgot.  I forgot that happiness is a daily choice.  I forgot that daily life is tricky and that curveballs are sent all the time.  I forgot that I had to get up every darn day and choose my perspective.  Most importantly, I forgot how difficult that is when I’m in the depth of a storm.

I lost a friend this year to cancer.  Losing special people is always difficult.   We all lose loved ones along the way.  It never feels fair and it always hurts.  Yet, somewhere in the midst of living, I started to feel guilty.  I started to wonder why I was spared.  Was I living up to my purpose?  Was I using the gifts God gave me to impact others?  Was I doing enough and being enough to justify my existence?  The inequity of it all overwhelmed me.

So here’s the lesson I needed reminded of AGAIN.  I just need to be.  I don’t need to prove my worth or validate my existence.   For a woman who took her job home with her, cried for every student she thought she failed, who measured her worth in the graduation rates of students as well as feedback she received from administrators, students, and coworkers, it’s been a long, hard unlearning.     Truth is, I’m relearning all the time.  As a stay at home mom now, I have to stop worrying that other working moms look at me as though I add no value.  I have to let go of the image I so desperately feel validated me.  If I’m not working, how will people know I’m smart, capable, or creative?  How will they know what I have to offer?  The answer?  Who cares?  Who really cares?  “They” do not matter.

I know this.  I learned this before.  I learned what really mattered after I lost a baby.  I didn’t think I would make it through that dark time of living without Landon.  The experience was too hard and my heart was shattered.  But I got up, albeit slowly.  I learned that I would bounce back and reenter the world.  I would experience joy and happiness again.  But, I had to make that choice.  I chose joy.  I chose faith.

I had it all figured out, right?  Wrong.  I found out I had cancer.  Another life knock-out.  I broke down again and didn’t think I would walk through life as happily.  I was mad at God again.  I thought it would steal all my joy.  But I got back up and found out I was made in strength and love.  Oh, and lots and lots of grace.

I will have bad days and I don’t need to beat myself up over those moments.  I need to keep my eyes focused and my heart soft to all the little, wonderful day to day instances.  I choose to see life through a lens of gratitude.  I will hone in on the splendor of a butterfly, the wonder of a wildflower, the giggle of a child, the excitement of a friend, the smell of coffee brewing, the roar of a rollercoaster, and the gleam in my husband’s eye.  Of course, I will need reminded of this lesson again, no question.  Again and again and again.  Get back up and choose joy.