I’m sitting in my car outside my boys’ school. I’m 30 minutes early to pick them up. I’m here early most days, and more often than not, it’s because I’m working. I work 100% faster during these 30 minutes than I do at any other time of the day, simply because there’s nothing else to distract me.
But today, I have no work, I have no phone calls to make, I have nothing I can do here from the car. No, today I’m here early because it’s raining. There’s a chill in the air, the sky is a beautiful shade of gray, and there is a steady spattering of tiny raindrops on my windshield. I’m here because I can sit in the quiet peacefulness of my car and be refreshed by the break from the painfully persistent heat that we’ve had to muddle through, day after day after day, for the past three months.
I think I’ve needed to be refreshed for a good long while now, but not because of the heat. I’ve fallen into the deepest rut, I find myself doing the same things every day, making the same mistakes, mucking through things just to get them out of the way.
Somewhere along the way I lost my joy, and no matter how hard I look, I can’t seem to find it.
I’ve tried to go back and pick up the things I used to enjoy. I used to be crafty. I used to enjoy making things, coming up with craft projects for the kids at church, coming up with new projects simply to entertain myself. My inspiration has run dry.
I used to scrapbook. I loved the creativity, the brainstorming of ideas, the sketching, the photos, all of it. It was fun in theory, but when I tried to make the ideas come to life on paper I was so anal about making it perfect that I missed the fun that was supposed to be part of the process.
I used to love making cakes. I loved the challenge of pushing my abilities to see what I could create. I loved sculpting, I loved baking, I loved seeing the look on someone’s face when the cake I delivered far exceeded their expectations. But I was so terrified of disappointing them, so worried I’d make a mistake that I couldn’t correct, that the stress ate me up inside from the time I took the order until the moment I delivered the finished product. The happiness it used to bring me is hard to even recollect.
Somewhere along the way I lost my joy, and no amount of retracing my steps is going to bring it back.
I realize now that I can’t go back. I can’t find my joy in the places it used to be because it isn’t there to be found. It isn’t in the hobbies I did just for me, and it most certainly is not in the things I continued to do to please other people.
I assume my joy will be found when I let the old things wash away, allow myself to slow down, be still and be refreshed to start again. Perhaps my joy will come when I discover my gifts and start putting them to use. Maybe my joy will only come when I finally find my purpose and my calling. The problem is that I’m 33 years old and I haven’t found it yet, I haven’t even caught a glimpse of it, and I’m so afraid that I’m looking for something that isn’t out there to be found.
I can’t be the only one who feels this way. I know there are others out there who struggle with this and just won’t say it out loud. But I don’t believe God creates anyone without a purpose. I refuse to believe it. The day I allow myself to believe that is the day I might as well give up.
I’m not giving up. I’m going to keep looking. I may not be sure of the outcome, but I intend to enjoy the search.