I was having a rough week, rather a rough month. I had moved to California because God told me to and here I was waiting for my nursing license to come through so I could start work. My fiancee had broken up with me over text message. I was sitting in an expensive apartment with my dog with no income and no friends. I was angry and unfortunately, it came out at the UPS guy.
He was simply trying to do his job to enforce the mask mandate and I had forgotten my mask that day. I was dropping off a package to return something so this encounter required very little contact with another human being. The poor kid was probably 18 years old and looked like he was going to cry when I started yelling at him.
Truthfully, this is how I used to live my life. I let circumstances get the best of me. I let them consume my emotional state and allowed myself to feel like a victim. I recently had a difficult couple of days that reminded me of this time because I almost lost it on another retail employee.
I had experienced bullying from someone I thought I could trust. I was confused and had several unanswered questions about where my life was headed. And to top it off, I was dumped. I decided to get off my couch and run an errand because I had no more tears to cry. When the store employee informed me that their internet system was down and I would have to come back at a later time, I almost lost it on him. I quickly turned on my heel and stomped out of the store.
I got in my car and started crying. Why did this have to happen to me? Why can't life just be easy for me once in a while? I was quickly reminded of the day that I yelled at the UPS store employee and realized I was trying to stay in a place of victimhood and self-pity. I then chose joy. I refused to stay a victim and let life circumstances continue bringing me down. I had experienced some unfortunate experiences in the past few days and yet I could choose to stay upset or choose to find joy again.
I chose joy. My mood didn't change within minutes and in fact it took a few hours. But by the time I went back to the store to re-attempt my return, I was ready to apologize to the employee. I wanted to explain that he didn't deserve the brunt of my self-pity or curt attitude. That because I had chosen to live with anger, resentment, bitterness, and self-pity, it had affected my entire outlook and came out negatively on innocent people.
At the root of my self-pity was anger and it was justified, similar to the anger and despair I felt when I lost it on the UPS guy. Life isn't fair and I've had my share of struggles. And I'm choosing joy because life is too short to live with those feelings in your heart. In the end, you're robbing yourself of joy when you stay a victim (and sometimes hurting other people in the process).
Some reflection questions for you:
What is robbing you of your joy?
What does staying a victim do for you? How does it help you? Harm you?
What does choosing joy look like to you?