Choose Joy. I stared at the scripted phrase on my friend’s mug and sighed. “Sorry, mug.” I thought, “I’m not feeling it today.” From t-shirts to Instagram posts, that little phrase was popping up all over the place. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something about it bothered me. I was in a season of life that was hard. We had just welcomed baby number four, and while I couldn’t imagine life without him, I was overwhelmed and tired from a life that felt so very full. I wanted to find the willpower to pull myself up by my bootstraps and choose joy, but I felt like I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried.

Bringing my troubles to prayer, I asked the Lord to speak to my weary heart. Why couldn’t I just look past the challenges and be grateful for the blessings? Why couldn’t I figure out how not to be overwhelmed?

As “why couldn’t I” continued to run through my head, the Lord gently pressed pause and whispered, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor 12:9). My grace, the Lord told St. Paul when he begged Him to remove a thorn from his side. My grace—not your willpower—is what you need to endure.

Don’t try to choose it, the Lord reminded me, instead, receive it.

There it was. The reason I couldn’t fully get behind “choose joy”. Yes, something could be said about creating a positive mindset, but ultimately, it wasn’t about choosing. Instead, it was about receiving, and I had forgotten that, as a woman, receiving was one of my greatest strengths.

In Pope St. John Paul II’s writings on the Theology of the Body and the Feminine Genius, he often spoke of the receptive nature of woman. This nature, which is a “visible sign of an invisible reality,” (General Audience, July 28, 1992) makes a woman not only physically receptive but also spiritually receptive. It gives her a unique disposition to receive all that the Lord desires to give her if she is willing to accept it.

In that full season of life, I had forgotten how to receive. I had forgotten that what I needed most was not to find the willpower but to receive the grace. (And, at times, the grace to receive the grace when things were really chaotic!) 

Next time you are fighting to choose joy, pause, take a deep breath, and pray, “Lord, I need you. Let me receive Your joy.” His grace is sufficient.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.

This reflection is adapted from Reveal the Gift: Living the Feminine Genius by Lisa Cotter which is available from Ascension Press.

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