Choosing Joy

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“Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve just been informed by maintenance that this plane has irreparable damage at this moment and we need to change planes,” our captain broadcasted over the PA system onboard my flight that was scheduled to leave before 8am. The sleep and caffeine-deprived Jersey-bound passengers were not happy as muttered expletives resounded about the cabin like ripples in a pond.

As we de-planed, I heard the flight attendants announce that any complaints or suggestions should be made at the information booth in the airport terminal. They anticipated the backlash.

An hour and a half later, I found myself on a new plane in the same seat, but the difference was the grumpy attitude that had filled the air.

“I have to cancel my spa reservation now because, of course, there was a delay.”

“I need to speak with the Captain. We shouldn’t have to pay for refreshments now, because of the inconvenience.”

“Ugh, I am so tired and I have to be at work in a few hours.”

I was dumbfounded by the entitlement mentality that my fellow passengers exuded. It was toxic. I felt myself almost give in and agree with them:

“Yea! This is ridiculous! I deserve a free cup of coffee because you guys are trying to keep us safe!”

In moments like this we have a choice. We can choose life or death.

I’m really into chalk art right now. A few months ago I found a quote by Henri J. Nouwen that I handlettered on the chalkboard that’s in my house.

“We have to choose joy and keep choosing it.”

I think about the quote daily because I’m reminded of it every morning as I leave the house.

I also came across an article recently on the seven secrets to live a happy life, as taught by children. One of them was embracing joy! When was the last time you squealed with wonder at snow falling from the sky? Or how often to you jump up and down with excitement at just the sight of someone you love? As adults, we lose our ability to express childlike joy. We choose to grumble. We choose death.

What’s the use in freaking out about something that you can’t control? What makes you so entitled that you feel the need to be compensated for a minor inconvenience? Why is your immediate reaction a negative one?

My God is so sovereign that He knows what’s going to happen before it happens. So perhaps we were delayed so that my dad wouldn’t get in a car accident on the way to the airport. Or maybe the mechanic that was fixing the first plane needed overtime to feed his family. Or maybe I just needed to learn this lesson in choosing joy.

So, early this morning, instead of jumping on the bandwagon of complaints, I waved it along and chose to ride on my tricycle of joy. My circumstances will not affect my attitude. I’m sitting in a padded chair, in an air-conditioned cabin, traveling over 600 mph, miles above the ground on my way to see faces I love. Wheeeee!

Today, and everyday hereafter, I’m choosing joy. What about you?