I Believe in Choosing Joy
When anyone greeted my father, John Parish, with “How are you?” he always replied heartily, “Happy!” At his funeral a decade ago, almost everyone remarked on that being the characteristic they remembered about him that blessed them. What a comfort to our family! I was close to my father – our make-up, our very personalities, are almost identical. Life was not easy for him; in fact, he struggled at times with depression and various lifelong difficulties. I knew he triumphed by making a conscious effort every day to be happy, a response to the grace he found in knowing Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
Dad, you will be glad to know that I, too, choose joy. I have found that I believe in smiling, singing, dancing, laughing, and even skipping for joy! I also am aware that life is unfair, often even painful. I know first hand now because my oldest son, your pride and joy as well, once brilliant and sensitive, developed the catastrophic disease, schizophrenia, just about the time you left us. When I see who he is and what he faces in the future, as opposed to all he was and could have been, the tragedy could weigh down my heart forever.
However, I have determined to be grateful for the simplest pleasures of living in the moment, not dwelling on the past, the bitter, the losses, or the dread of an uncertain future, but to be aware of the sweet evidences of love every day – in the audible and visible music of nature; the breathing in of the smiles, sounds, and touch of family and friends; and the palpable beauty that comes from spending time in the very presence of a lavish, even extravagant God, who would give His only Son that mine could have hope for a place where his soul will be restored.
I choose to allow my heart to be content, even thankful, yes, delighted to feast on the abundance of the precious gifts in my life every single day; and as He pours my cup to overflowing, I exult. Dad, do you want to know how your daughter is? Happy!
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