I've been making my way through Walking with God recently, which I highly recommend. Last night I was reading a section where John Eldredge was talking about how we have forgotten that joy is such an essential and necessary part of our lives. He stated he forgets about joy through busyness and getting through the various requirements of life, like paying bills. Life is more about surviving than joy.
Reflecting on this, I realized that I have come to live the same way, trying to survive life and make the best out of it that I can instead of discovering and enjoying true joy. I realized that a lot of my perfectionism, organization, and Type A personality comes from fear. If I don't make sure everything's perfect and in order, everything is going to collapse. But if I keep things going, then there's a chance I'll succeed.
Interestingly, I don't really believe that I'll succeed if I just try hard enough. I actually don't believe it was me who made myself successful. And I don't mean that in a pseudo-humble "good Christian" way of "It's God, not me." Honestly, most of my successes have been a surprise and usually in spite of myself. I had no plans to actually attend UC Berkeley; I thought I would be attending UC Irvine. Then I visited, and I knew Cal was supposed to be my school. I had hopes of having the opportunity to graduate early, but did not plan it. I took classes that sounded interesting in order to find my major, but making sure they would fulfill requirements. To my surprise, I fulfilled almost all my general ed requirements my first year, making it easy to graduate a year early. My internship that I'm starting next month was absolutely dead last on my interest list. I almost didn't apply. Then I interviewed and fell in love with it. I'm thrilled to be going to Loma Linda every day for the next year and am convinced I am supposed to be there.
These are just some of the "big" examples of things working out excellently in my life. Yet I still worry. I still have to stay busy. I have to keep doing things. If I'm not doing something, that must mean I'm lazy and therefore I'll fail. At what? I dunno. Even what I'd be working for is not what brings me true joy ultimately. I do get joy working with clients and seeing transformations. Yet I don't have to be well-known and perfect and do all the prestigious things in my field to do that. In fact, those things could hinder helping others, my true calling.
What has helped me in the last half day of thinking about this is remembering joy. True joy. When was the last time I felt it? Do I even remember?
The instance that sticks out the most is one morning a while ago when I woke up before my wife. We were cuddling and our kitty came up, snuggled, and fell asleep purring. I was with my girls. I felt like I could stay there forever. If that's the joy that God wants for us all our lives and I have the opporuntity to have it if I just slow down enough to accept it, why do I focus so much time and energy on making sure everything else is planned and lined up to the nth degree so I have no time for myself and my family?