Care in Vestavia, AL

Lean Hard in the Way of Joy

By Joan Watkins

Andy Taylor: Well, what would you all like to play? Briscoe Darling: We'll sing that love song that I like so well. Charlene Darling: That one makes you cry, Paw. Briscoe Darling: Well, I'll fight it!

We all have "that" song, or memory, that makes us cry. For me it was always a cedar chest where I kept treasures: my mom's Bible, a baby book not completed, my grandmother's apron, a journal from early years of marriage. My husband started asking me whenever he saw me sit down and start to lift the lid, "Are you sure you need to do that? Go there? Right now? You are already struggling." He was wise and on many occasions helped me out of the ditch of grief before it became a pit of despair.

Like Briscoe Darling in that episode of the The Andy Griffith Show, we know what makes us cry or has great potential to send us down a lonely road. Music can pull us into the direction that we are leaning. We are responsible owners of ourselves when we admit that direction is not beneficial to our emotional health and productivity at that moment in time. We must make a conscious effort to lean hard in the way of joy in the midst of our pain, be it a loss, a health challenge or the exhaustion of caring for another during their difficult journey.

I recall the story of King David in 2 Samuel. He wept and begged for his son's life wearing sack cloth, his face dirty with ashes of grief. But then the time came to stand up, clean up and get on with life. He markedly changed his behavior when he understood THIS is what I must deal with. I hear him saying, "My prayers are answered, not the way I wanted, but I cannot change the outcome. I must move forward." David's heart was surely still hurting over the loss of his son. But he chose different actions that he knew would eventually bring renewal.

Briscoe Darling said, " Well, I'll fight it!" I must choose not to sit down and hold those cedar chest treasures in my hands and nurture my heartaches. I must choose to put on a Carole King album rather than Don Williams. I must treasure the memories made with my God-given forever family instead of dwelling on the what-if. I must take a spirited walk through the woods and recall the laughter and fun of my childhood knowing that very action will give way to remembrances of joy. My progressive thoughts begin with a choice to focus on whatever is beneficial and travel up and away into a happy heart and a light spirit that gives away peace.

I have a choice today, as do you, to pick the song that makes me smile; to spend my time in the sunshine rather than the darkness of my room; to make a phone call and have a conversation with a friend rather than sitting in my loneliness and self-pity; to lean a different direction instead of giving in to the pull toward sadness.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Philippians 4:8

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