Forecast for Happiness

Yesterday was going to be special. My husband and I had plans to spend the morning outside with our son – going to the farm park to pick a pumpkin. We took him there for the first time last year, and had a wonderful experience. It had been a beautiful day – cool but sunny and dry. Happy memories in the making captured against a cloudless blue sky.

Cub with pumpkin 2012

We let him wear himself out running the hay maze, indulged in his first pony ride, and took our time walking the pumpkin field to find a pumpkin that was “just right.” It was a perfect day, and I have an entire Facebook photo album to prove it. But, that was last year.

This year, our Saturday started out like most do in our household. Feeding the animals, feeding the humans, running the dishwasher – getting all  the necessaries out of the way so we can enjoy our fun family time. Eventually, I made my way to the bathroom to get ready. I glanced out the little hexagonal window and my heart sank. The world was grey. Dark and heavy. The trees lining our backyard stood in silhouette against a sky full of clouds.

In the time it took me to put on my makeup and curl my hair, my day was brought to ruin. The pumpkin field was probably going to be too muddy, the air was going to be too cold, and there would be no blue sky backdrop to carry our memories over until next year.

As I flipped off the light switch, determined to soldier on and find a way to salvage the day, I glanced once more out the window, and what I saw took my breath away. Sunshine and blue skies! No shadows, no grey, no heaviness. No clouds. I craned my neck in all 8 directions of that tiny window and saw no hint of the tragic day I had seen just moments before.

Happiness restored, I gathered jackets, keys and camera, eager once again to embark on our glorious adventure. Even so, this little lesson was not lost on me. With the whisp of temporal misty darkness, I had been willing to cast judgment on my own future as well as that of my family. Sadly, I was quick to assume and accept that our day together was not going to be all that it could be. Somehow, it would be less than because it wasn’t going to be as good as last year. Thankfully, our stories are alive, changing from moment to moment, just like the weather.

I was wrong about our day, but not because the clouds rolled away and the sun came out. Not because our day was rescued by a last minute blue sky. I was wrong about our day because I had forecast my happiness based on my observed circumstances. As I began to think about it, I began to wonder what would have happened if the weather had not changed. Had I really been willing to lay down the fullness of my joy just because some clouds got in the way?

We have all experienced dark times – those clouds that seem to linger. And, it is tempting to lay down our joy. But, we don’t have to. According to the Bible, the joy of the Lord is our strength. That being said, I have long thought that joy has been greatly underestimated in our culture. We (I) need to make a daily endeavor to embrace joy. When we choose joy, even on the cloudy days, we gain strength. And, since joy seems to beget joy, we will encourage and empower those around us, like an infectious laugh.

So shine on, my friends. Shine on.

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