Joy

Over the last few months, I have been trying to put how I feel into words.  There’s been this feeling inside of me that I don’t recognize.  I feel…happy?  Yes, but it goes beyond that.  I’m…content?  For the most part, yes, but it’s even more than that.  What is it?  It seems vaguely familiar – like I’ve felt it before, but I can’t quite remember.

Recently, I’ve been able to figure out what the mystery emotion is.

Joy.

Wow…it’s been a long, long time.  Years and years of battling depression has caused me to lose touch with joy.  Believe me, there have been good things in my life during those years – happy moments, great friends, awesome blessings.  But the underlying climate in my life was so heavily clouded with anxiety and depression that I could never connect with joy.

So much has changed in my life over the last six months.  It’s mind boggling to me sometimes.  I’m not the same person I was just that short time ago.  Some things are still the same.  My life is by no means perfect – nor do I expect it to be.  I’ve got some tough stuff going on in my life right now, but at the end of the day, I’m smiling.  When I start to feel anxious about something, I still feel the surprising, overwhelming feeling of joy.  I sometimes find myself checking for it.  Is it still there?  I’m really upset – did it kick joy out?  But it’s still there.  Life is good.

There are so many factors that led to me finding joy again.  One of them was Godspell.  It was choreographing that show again that led to me finally recognizing that joy was back in my life.  As rehearsals were increasing closer to the show, I was also working a lot of hours for my job.  After our 12 day work week, everyone was looking forward to having the weekend off.  I mentioned something about not having the weekend off, and someone said, “Well, that’s your choice.”  To a certain extent, that’s true.  I chose to choreograph the show, but at the end of the day, I also had to do it.  It’s a part of who I am.  It’s been a huge part of my journey in the last year.  I can’t lose connection to the creative side of me.  That’s not what God wants for my life.

Godspell went so well.  The kids did a great job, and I was proud of them.  How much they grew throughout the show was really cool.  I had a couple of parents talk to me after the show, and it was cool to hear what they had to say about how much their kids loved doing the show.  One parent complimented me on the choreography and said that my joy is evident and reflected in the kids on stage.  That was the moment I realized that I had reconnected to my joy.  It was a funny statement to me as well.  It was definitely a high compliment, but I also thought, “If my joy is evident and reflected in them, it is only because they helped me rediscover it.”  Between last year’s show and this year’s, those kids helped me reconnect – not only to joy, but to myself.  It is their joy that helped me connect with mine.  They are the reason I choose to do what I do.

Another parent said that this ministry had done so much for her daughter.  She didn’t have to tell me any details.  I could see for myself.  Her daughter reminded me a little of myself.  And that’s why I do this.  Dance was such a huge part of my life growing up.  It was my escape from everything.  It was the one place I felt like I belonged.  For years, it was the only reason I got out of bed.  I have no doubt that it is the only reason I am still here today.  I love to share that with others.  If I can pass along that safety; that comfort; that sense of belonging; that joy; to even one other person then everything – the hours, the energy, the occasional frustration – is all worth it.

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy – Psalm 30:11

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