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Getting Your Groove Back: The Restorative Power of JOY

Kids playing in the surf at a beach near Algeciras in Southern Spain

Over the past few years, my husband and I been on the receiving end of some hard circumstances. The word “heaviness” comes to mind. None of it has been beyond the scope of what most people experience, but at times it has seemed to be one thing after another. You’re reading this and thinking, “Totally…me too.” or even “Allison, You have No Idea.”  I know you understand where I’m coming from because we all go through seasons like that.

You won’t ever get me to give up the hope that nothing hard in life is wasted (see 2 Corinthians 4:17 and Romans 5:3-5 just to site a few of Paul’s writings on the topic). Honestly, I hold on to that truth with such tenacity that to remove it would be removing a large part of who I am. And I hope you know by now that just because I believe sufferings aren’t wasted, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to grieve/mourn even small losses in your daily life. (See my posts on Embracing the Freedom of AND and Riding the Roller Coaster for more on this topic of processing the losses of life). However, the question for today is this: After the tough time has subsided…then what?

Remember what you love. One of the perks of living in south Louisiana is that you’re only a few hours away from some really great beaches. And, we are Beach People. The waves, the sand, the good vibes, the sun…we love it all! Chad loves being (literally) tossed around by big waves. It awakens a part of him like nothing else can. Along with the beach, I love: eating at nice restaurants, hanging out with old friends, being on my “queenie” float in the pool, driving with the sunroof open, great music and vanilla Dr. Pepper from Sonic.
What are the things you love? What are the things that you used to love but have forgotten about? Make a list and do each thing! When we engage in things we love, it has a way of reigniting joy, and blowing the cobwebs out of the deep parts of your soul.

Laugh. Laughter requires but two things: being present in the moment and a light heart. When you laugh, you are throwing care to the side, if even for a moment. What makes you laugh the hardest? When you’re coming out of a hard season, it’s important to remind every part of you that you’re still ok: body, mind and soul. What better way to communicate that to your depths than to laugh? By way of recommendation, here is the funniest book I’ve read in quite a while. And may I recommend the TV shows “Life in Pieces,” “The Goldbergs” and “The Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt” for your viewing pleasure.

Play. Playfulness between people who love each other is one of my favorite things about life. Play combines a lot of the activities listed above, but it’s important enough to get it’s own bullet. If you only knew how hard I play on a daily basis, you’d probably quit taking me seriously! If I love you, I pick at you, and make you an unwitting partner in a game I just made up, jump out and scare you, sing you a theatrical song…the list only gets longer and more embarrassing from here. I love the spontaneity and movement that play requires. For me, play unlocks JOY and I personally cannot sustain too many days in a row without joy.

Rest. I’ve been reading an awesome book lately on work and rest called, “Garden City” and have told many of my clients about it already. Rest is an overlooked and undervalued part of our culture. To truly engage in rest, you have to believe that God is at work on your behalf even when you’re not hustling. Nothing fills our tanks back up like unplugging from the rat-race and trusting that everything is going to be A-OK. This requires proper perspective on your small role and God’s big role in the world. As John Ortberg says, “sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.”

Today, I hope you engage in what makes your soul come alive. Remember JOY. Trust. And most of all, don’t forget…This is supposed to be FUN.