The Joy of Shenanigans
It was one of those days. You know the ones. Where you want to scream if one more thing does not go as planned or if there is one more outburst from the kid or if one more ring of the phone has someone adding something to your responsibilities.
I honestly don’t even remember how it all began or what all of the actual events of the day were, but it was constant. One thing after another.
Daughter’s lost lunch box.
My forgotten phone.
Trip home to retrieve forgotten phone.
Late to meeting.
Empty gas tank discovered on the way to the same meeting.
Found lunch box.
And on and on.
For some reason that morning, though, I decided that I was just going to say something aloud every time another hit came.
That is what I said. Out loud. I just said, “Shenanigans.” To be honest, it kind of felt a little like a “Christian” cuss word. There are other words that I would have rather said (and have said) in those moments. But those words typically bring even more frustration. Instead, by the end of the day, I was laughing every time. This simple word set my mind in a different direction.
Joy won. And I felt the difference.
Life can be hard and at times simply saying shenanigans just isn’t going to cut it. Life throws us curve balls. Curve balls like lost jobs, shattered marriages, unfulfilled longings for a child, broken friendships, death of a treasured loved one, diagnoses like cancer.
But what if joy could win in those moments too? What if joy is actually a weapon we can use to fight life's greatest battles?
Imagine what it would look like if we all found a way to celebrate and experience joy even in our darkest moments of despair. Back in October I had the privilege of meeting one of my favorite authors, Margaret Feinberg. In her new book, my new friend shares exactly how joy can be a weapon in our greatest battles.
Laura and Margaret at the Writer's Bootcamp in Denver, CO in October
After her difficult diagnosis and battle with breast cancer, Margaret penned Fight Back with Joy: Celebrate More. Regret Less. Stare Down Your Greatest Fears. The book shares her raw journey through the most trying period of time in her life. With grace and first-hand experience, Margaret teaches how to fight with joy when rejoicing is the last thing on your mind.
We need this message. I need this message.
As a recovering perfectionist, celebrations are not my forte. I’m still learning how to live in a world where you can just stop to laugh about shenanigans and no one gets hurt. But sometimes something more than a catchphrase is needed. More is necessary.
Margaret writes, “Sure, the virtue of joy is an upbeat companion for life, but that is not the whole story. The true power of joy supersedes a chirpy disposition, candy-coated emotion, or saccharine fantasy. It’s far more tangible than any magical notion of clicking your heels and discovering your bliss.” Joy is not just a mindset. It’s not happiness. It’s a powerful weapon that can transform any situation. Margaret says, “Joy is the sacred jingle of God within you.”
Joy is a weapon I want to wield. In both the moments where chanting “shenanigans” will be enough to draw my attention back to God, but also in the moments where the struggle is real and I am fighting my way back to him--the moments where weeping is required. I want to fight back with joy. I want to feel the joy of my God as it strengthens me (Nehemiah 8:10). I long for more than whimsy. I have battles to fight. And so do you.
How are you using joy as a weapon? Share your story in the comments below. You can also share your moments of "fighting back with joy" by using the #fightbackwithjoy on your social media posts.
There is strength in fighting this battle together. You are not alone.
About Margaret Feinberg:
Margaret Feinberg teaches at churches and conferences including Catalyst, Thrive, and Women of Joy. She was recently named one of 50 women most shaping church and culture by Christianity Today. Her books and Bible studies, including The Organic God, The Sacred Echo, Scouting the Divine, and Wonderstruck, have sold nearly a million copies. She lives in Colorado, with her husband, Leif, and their superpup, Hershey. She believes some of the best days are spent in jammies, laughing and being silly.
You can read more from Margaret on a regular basis on her blog here.
Find out more about Margaret Feinberg's newest book and Bible study curriculum, Fight Back with Joy. Check out the promo video here.