Do you know that joy is a choice?
I knew it in my head. Somewhere in the midst of eleven long months of deployment, I learned it. But it hadn't really hit my heart until a sunny day in the month of May - a day which could have been my last.
I was out on a kayak with my daughter when the wind flipped us over. It wouldn't have been so bad, except I didn't have a life jacket on. I'm not really sure how many times I went under water. All I know is that there came a point where I knew I had a choice: hold on or die.
There was no room in my mind to think of calling for help. All I could focus on was surviving that moment.
Every ounce of energy I had was poured into gripping that kayak, into keeping us above water somehow.
There came a moment when I was laying on my back holding onto the kayak. Water was washing over my eyes, but I didn't care - all that mattered was that my mouth was above water. All I cared about in that moment was that I could breathe.
It was the scariest moment of my life.
But it was a moment that gave me so much clarity too.
I remember as soon as help came, all I could say was "thank you." I was crushed by the weight of my gratitude. These people didn't just pick up a stranger in their boat; in a sense, they gave me the gift of life.
And I remember, as I stepped off the boat, feeling like all the weight of the things I have let drag me down - a messy past, infertility, life not looking the way I thought it would - it was all just gone. All I was left with was a deep gratitude - gratitude for life.
My reality is, I could easily have not survived that day. The boats could have never seen me. All of the family could have never noticed us in the water. I could have lost strength. I could have died.
But God gave me the gift of life.
He didn't have to. But He did.
I've lived so long not realizing I had an entitlement mentality, feeling like God owed me something - a baby, financial stability, whatever. I felt like my joy depended (at least somewhat) on what I had or didn't have.
But on that day, truth flooded my soul. He doesn't owe me anything. He's given me life. And that is enough.