The morning was crisp but sunny, and I was feeling like 25 and wearing a fun scarf as I walked into O’Neill’s corner grocer the other day. Dotty was there at the cash register, and she looked up from her casual thumbing through the Reader’s Digest to say “Hi, Andrée.” Renee was at the other conveyor belt wiping it down and greeted me too, as always.
O’Neill’s is one of those grocery stores like we had in the 1950s, with slightly crooked wooden floors and a large pickle barrel full of dills. As I rounded the corner to the produce section I felt a stab of something I can only describe as joy.
Noting this refreshing occurrence, I was about to consciously revert to a more normal state of mind. I even cast around mentally to try to remember the vague worries I always carry around with me so I could return to attending to them. This I did in the manner of a person who, surprised to be released for the first time into the deep end of a swimming pool, instinctively feels around for the edges where she can feel safer.
But then I suddenly said to myself, “I am never going to have joy if I do not choose to have it now!” There will never be a more perfectly delicious moment than this nugget of time. So if I decide to hold out longer for a problem-free stretch where I imagine joy lies, I will go to my grave without joy. For there are always troubles or potential troubles in our lives: children not yet saved, people on the outs with us, somebody not feeling well. The idea that joy will come when life is absent of problems is the devil’s way of keeping us from ever having it. Joy must be chosen, as the apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: “Rejoice always!” And to the Philippians: “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.”
So go out today and choose joy. I will join you. As long as we have to work and carry on business anyway, we may as well do it in joy.