It’s early here, even earlier than normal. I was pulled out of a sound sleep at 4:30 this morning to the sound of a child coughing. Before I could reach the side of her bed, it turned into the sound of a child puking.
My first thought was, “Seriously? We can’t even make it through a week of summer without the stomach flu?” A sick child is not part of my plans for today. We have soccer camp and doctor’s appointments today. I have work to do. This is not the way summer is supposed to start.
Yet, as I debated whether to stay up or go back to bed for 45 minutes, I realized that it’s easy to grumble and complain when life gets tough. And it’s something I’m always telling my girls not to do. Yet here I sit at 5 a.m., starting my day by complaining.
Sure, I have reason to whine. I’ve yet to meet the person on this planet that enjoys cleaning up someone else’s puke. I don’t know anyone who likes being awakened at 4:30 in the morning by a sick child. But in this moment, I have two choices: I can moan and groan and be frustrated by my busted plans or I can choose to be joyful.
Our circumstances don’t determine our joy level, and my kids will learn that more from how I act than from anything that I say. If they see me choosing to find joy in the midst of the trying moments, then they will learn to do the same. If they see me choosing to grumble when things don’t go my way, then that’s what they’ll learn.
Nehemiah 8:10 says “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” We find our strength in the joy of our salvation. We find joy in simply knowing that we are precious in God’s sight. We are loved and redeemed. That alone is cause for joy, and that doesn’t change no matter how much our circumstances do.
Joy is a choice. It’s one we have to make in every difficult moment — through every sick child, every unpleasant parenting moment, every failure and mistake. Our kids are learning how to react to difficult situations by watching us. Are your kids learning to choose joy in the difficult times or are you leaving a legacy of complaining?
How we react to difficult situations matters. It matters because little eyes are watching our every move and learning from what we say and do. When things don’t go your way today, choose to be joyful.