"Be joyful always." 1 Thessalonians 5:16
"Never let anyone steal your joy." ~Mike Richards
It should have been an insignificant moment in my life, yet I remember it like it was yesterday. That's pretty amazing to me, because it took place over twenty years ago. It was the month of December, and I was having a rare moment of solitude. My husband had taken the kids out, and I was home alone decorating our Christmas tree. I was relishing the moment when the phone rang.
A very angry woman who I barely knew was on the other line. She told me that I was thoughtless and flaky, and it got worse from there. I tried to defend myself, but she wasn't about to listen to a word of it. Instead, she hung up on me. I was crushed. It seems so silly now, but at the time, her words were like an unexpected slap in the face.
As unaccustomed as I was to such rudeness, I couldn't let it rest. I dialed the woman's number, determined to straighten out the misunderstanding. When she realized it was me calling, she said she was a busy woman and didn't have time for flakes like me. Again, she hung up.
A lump the size of a golf ball formed in my throat, and the tears started streaming down my face. I continued to place our ornaments on the tree, but by this time my vision was clouded by my sobs.
Here's the worst part ~ until this past year, I have let the memories of that awful encounter haunt me. Every time it came to mind, I'd get that same wave of pain wash over me. I couldn't stand the fact that this woman I barely knew thought so poorly of me based on her skewed perceptions of what had taken place.
I let this woman be my killjoy. When I ran into her at the market, my day would be a little less joyful. For several years after the incident, I couldn't decorate my Christmas tree without recalling her harsh words. One of my favorite activities lost a bit of its joy.
Here's the thing ~ I let her do this to me. By allowing her words to crush me...to haunt me...and to affect me the way they did, I was giving her permission to take away my joy. I don't know what changed, but something inside of me said "enough!" and I put an end to giving this woman the power to upset me with her words.
Today, I can honestly say I don't care one iota about the way that woman treated me or what she thought of me. In fact, I hope that she hasn't carried the incident with her as long as I did.
I'm done giving away my joy over silly misunderstandings. I am saying "no" to the killjoys who make snap judgments and misread me. And I am watching my own words...and thoughts...and judgments, determined to never lash out and stomp on someone else's joy.
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." ~Eleanor Roosevelt
"We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy." ~Joseph Campbell