“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” – Henri Nouwen
How do you react when adversity appears in your life?
From minor inconveniences (long lines, slow moving traffic, cold coffee) to major difficulties (financial hardship, the loss of a friendship, a serious illness), the manner in which we respond impacts how we feel and how life happens afterward.
Last week I was reminded of two different ways of reacting. Let me explain how it applies in your life.
While in line to use the restroom at the San Francisco airport, a gentleman walked in, stood directly behind me, breathed agitatedly and spoke loudly: “What?! You’ve got to be joking me? This has got to be some f’ing joke, right?!”
The response surprised me for various reasons: the repeated use of foul language, the decibel level of his voice and the fury in his tone. But perhaps the most surprising aspect of his morning monologue was that the bathroom line consisted of three people. Just three people!
Compare this response to that of Ms. Judy Moffett’s reaction to adversity.
You see, Judy is familiar with long waits, real struggles and significant adversity. Two separate times she was diagnosed with cancer. Two different times she endured the required treatments, procedures and struggles. She knows too well the exhausting, agonizing journey.
Her familiarity with adversity didn’t lesson the shock, though, when during a routine visit to her doctor she was told that the cancer was back.
Judy put her head down, her hands together, and quietly whispered a prayer. Judy wasn’t asking for a cure or for total healing; she wasn’t yelling angrily over all she’d already faced or with fury at the unfairness of it all.
Instead, head bent, she quietly whispered, “Lord, use this cancer for good.”
Over the months that followed Judy endured a litany of struggles. Radiation, chemotherapy, weight loss, hair loss and pain provides a partial list of adversity during her third battle with cancer. And yet she refused to be defined by the cancer; choosing instead to dance, smile and fight her way through the treatments.
Observing the spunk and courage of Judy Moffett was her daughter, Amy.
Amy Brown is part of the nationally syndicated Bobby Bones Show and used that platform to occasionally share Judy’s story with their millions of listeners. Amy would tell of the struggles and courage of her mother. But more than anything, she’d share examples of her boundless joy.
In fact, Amy jokingly started a hashtag for her mom: #PimpinJoy.
Judy, in her mid 60s, wasn’t sure about the hashtag or the word choice, but it caught on. While Judy made a conscious effort to not let hardship cause her to lose hope, Amy would share with her radio listeners her mother’s joy – and encourage them to choose to live joyfully in their lives, too.
The #PimpinJoy movement gained even more traction when they launched a clothing line, with profits supporting charities. Amy continues to celebrate joy on her radio show with renowned musicians at the annual celebration known as Joy Week. They encourage others to fight on, choose joy and to make a difference. (Check out my most recent Live Inspired podcast to hear Amy Brown share more about her life, her mom and why joy is a worthy choice in your life, too.)
My friends, when Judy Moffett was diagnosed the third time with cancer she didn’t know it would eventually claim her life. All Judy knew was that the diagnosis would not steal her joy. And all she asked for was that it be used for good.
Her decision ignited a global movement of people choosing to live joyfully.
To varying degrees adversity appears each day in our lives. Although we may not always choose the path we are on, we have the freedom to choose the manner in which we walk it.
This is your day. Choose joy and Live Inspired.
Who in your life is #PimpinJoy? Share their story in the comments below.