The desire to write today is nonexistent. Stress presses in and wells up inside. I feel like curling into myself and drifting away. Exhausted emotions produce a rawness that bites back. I am tired.
I used to read a little board book to my daughter when she was little entitled, Ella Phumumps Has the Grumps. The grumps. Some days they pull from all sides. Work. Home. Church. Relationships. They suck me down like quicksand, and I am trapped.
I’ve heard if you ever find yourself ensnared in quicksand, the more you panic and flail about, the quicker the sand engulfs you. Panic and flailing about are always my first reaction to depression or the anxiety produced by stress. So I sink down further. Always.
This leaves me with only one question—How do I get out?
I’m no scientist, but after some time with the Internet it seems deliberate movements are the key to freedom. Translation—make the choice to stop the panic and make the choice to do whatever necessary to work your way out.
Stepping out of quicksand remains far from instantaneous and can be a tedious process. To be honest, the strength required to attempt any small steps out of my grumpiness kinda makes me want to just sink further into the muck. Over the last two weeks a phrase continues to float around, in and out of my thoughts.
Choose Pollyanna. I am convinced the Holy Spirit whispered it in my ear.
Pollyanna plays across the Technicolor movie reels of my mind. I watched the film countless times as a child. The main character, orphaned, begins her journey on the screen when she is sent to live with her bitter Aunt. The town is filled with men and women sinking in quicksand. Pollyanna’s joyful outlook offers the townspeople the life-saving steps necessary for escape.
Her simple instructions for stepping out of the quagmire and into the light? Gladness. She challenges the town to find joy. In the darkest of moments, she encourages others to find a nugget of happiness, a morsel of gladness. Pollyanna may call it the Glad Game, but I call it Choosing Joy.
Finding joy amid life’s stressors and tragedies is no simple feat. It requires great strength and determination. It requires choice. Even Pollyanna faces the tragedy of paralysis. Joy does not erase the stressors that bog us down. It does not promise an end to loss.
But joy does lighten the burden. Choosing Pollyanna’s way of life is really about forcing ourselves to remember the good things the Lord has done. Each tiny fragment of joy we grasp and hold to tightly brings us one step closer to escaping the quicksand.
Can it really be that simple? I believe it can be. Simplicity is not always synonymous with ease but rather implies an uncomplicated outlook. Stuck in the quicksand of stress? Begin counting your blessings. Surrounded by negativity? Begin looking for the positives and speak them loudly for all to hear.
There will be Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days in this life. But we can choose to fight for the joy. We can choose to search in every corner and crevice to find it. It’s there. Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” We have a choice.
At some point, the power of choosing joy allows us to burst forth out of the sinking sand. Life is not all sunshine and rainbows, but it can be more like Pollyanna’s if we choose for it to be.