Done any life-changing reading lately? I have.
Fight Back With Joy by the lovely Mrs. Margaret Feinberg reduced me to a puddle. It ate my lunch. Blew my mind.
I loved it.
Joy is the prize. The cheese. The coveted jewel of every life, no matter what race, class, or religion. We all want it, we all NEED it, but few of us master it or REALLY live lives marinated in joy or defined by joy. Who wouldn’t want a joyful life?
I certainly do. Or I SAY I do. And yet, so many days I choose to fight my battles with irritability, anxiety, nervous energy. I fight with caffeine, chocolate, or macaroni and cheese. I fight with closed-fisted anger, or seething sarcasm. I fight with eloquent arguments. (If you don’t think I can make a good argument, just ask my husband.) Sometimes I don’t fight, but I retreat under the covers or hide behind a busy schedule or zone out on social media.
But what if I fought with joy? What if joy were more than an elusive state of happiness and well being? What if it were more than a fleeting feeling I get when everything goes my way? What if, instead of letting joy slip away when I’m faced with a battle, I picked it up and FOUGHT, using it as my weapon? What if I ran into the battlefield of life, screaming like a banshee, with the sword of JOY glinting in the sun? What if JOY was the weapon with which I slay the dragon of stress, slice up the monster of pain? What if joy were what I slide back into the sheath as I stand over the slain giant of loss, foot propped on its chest like a winner? And what if, in learning to use joy as my weapon to fight life’s battles, I ended up with a life FULL of joy?
That’s what Margaret’s book suggests and what, in fact, she decided to do when she received a devastating diagnosis of cancer. Fight Back With Joy is the account of her training in the weaponry of joy, and if you’re interested in learning how to wield joy as a weapon it’s the place to begin. I’ve enjoyed Margaret’s work for a long time, and was saddened to see her diagnosis when she shared it with her readers. She’s been to hell and back but the product is a book that challenged me in the kind of deep, meaningful, more-than-churchspeak-cliche’s-I’ve-heard-a thousand-times way I was starving for.
I’ve got a nephew who shoots sporting clays professionally. He started as a kid with an old beat up shotgun and a knack for shooting, but he got good. Really good. And along the way he’s amassed quite the collection of guns. A hundred year old gun that belonged to our great grandfather. A brand new state of the art gun that is worth more than a small car. He’s got all KINDS of guns because he’s GREAT at using them. If we think of joy as a weapon, and start fighting back our demons with it, I’ll bet we’d end up with quite the arsenal in our proverbial weapons case.
I read Fight Back With Joy in a few short days, mostly on my lunch breaks. I read with tears rolling down my cheeks and with resolve growing in my gut. I needed to hear it, needed to know it. The last post I wrote, I was headed into the new year, struggling with fear of the unknown. Enter Fight Back With Joy and my perspective has shifted. I’m still a lil scared. What if that other shoe DOES drop? What if…? I don’t even know.
What I DO know is that I don’t have to sit back in fear. I have a weapon. More than just a salve for my wounds, or a bandage for my broken heart, joy is a WEAPON I can use to guard my life. I can USE it. Pick it up, wave it around, practice with it, FIGHT with it. It’s a strategy that puts me on the offense. I ain’t no helpless lil’ thang out here just waiting for the next horror to take me down. I’m a woman, a warrior, with joy as my defiance against a hopeless, sad existence.
Ya’ll. I love this. I love the idea of defying the difficulties of life with one of the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit: Joy. I love the thought of choosing to celebrate, practice, seek out and create joy as a way to avoid giving in to the sorrow and despair so prevalent in our world. I gotta admit, I’ve got some target practice to do. But I’m ready to get to it. I’m ready to tackle life with my joy guns blazin’! How about you?
You can get Fight Back With Joy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Go. Get it. Read it. Or get some of your tribe together and ya’ll study it. Tell me what you think!!