January 1st, 2015 finds me sitting on the couch in yoga pants, staring at a screen of sentences that I’ve deleted and re-written way more times than I care to admit. I’m struggling and stretching through what I’m hoping will be inspirational and motivational New Year’s Resolutions, but are sounding more like the reflections of a sad, lonely 26-year-old. I ended up with this post, which is mostly my acknowledgement of discouragement and my commitment to keep pressing on day by day, despite being unclear about what the future will hold. In the midst of avoiding writing that post, I read lots of other blogs and caught up on emails, and came across one from a newly favorite author, Margaret Feinberg, looking for bloggers to read an early-release excerpt of her new book and write about it. I’m always up for great books, especially ones I’m already excited to read, and quickly signed up.
As I began to read the very first page of the except, containing simply the (reviews), I read this:
“When you feel stuck in the rut of discouragement, there’s no greater gift than rediscovering joy. With profound insight and poignant grace, Margaret Feinberg takes you on a journey toward joy that will reawaken your heart to the glee that comes with knowing God. You can’t read this book and stay the same.” (Pete Wilson, senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN and author of Plan B and Let Hope In)
I thought about what interesting timing to come across a book about joy, as I have just recognized how discouraged and stuck I feel, and how my prayer has been for rescue and help in the midst of that. What a coincidental discovery on this day, and what a welcome interlude on this quiet day those three chapters were.
The book is called “Fight Back With Joy: Celebrate More. Regret Less. Stare Down Your Greatest Fears“. The author, Margaret Feinberg has undergone the terrifying experience that so many of us fear – a cancer diagnosis. She shares candidly about the journey and the timing of that dreaded phone call in the midst of her writing project about joy. She looked this nightmare right in the face, and wrote:
“Everyone who wakes to confrontation and crisis—whether you picked the fight or the fight picked you—has an important choice: which weaponry will you choose? Cynicism and spite? Complaint and control? Or perhaps you are prone to deny and withdraw. To let your fleshy heart turn to stone. But there is another arsenal available to the daughters and sons of God. From the day of the diagnosis, I felt compelled to choose a different type of weapon: joy.” (18)
There are few words outside of simply inspirational that describe her journey, her story, and the beautiful way that she weaves these things together with words. What conviction she ushers in with her clear and conscious to choose joy in the midst of darkness and pain.
While there is much more to be read in this incredible book, what stuck out the most to me was her description of how the people around us play an integral part in injecting joy into our lives. She writes on the topic of refreshment:
“Often when we think about refreshment, we think about activities that breathe life into our weary bones. That much-needed nap. Those few hours at the spa. The afternoon by the pool. But it’s not just activities that refresh us. People replenish us. That friend who is slow to speak but quick to listen. That person who doesn’t want to fix you as much as care for you. The relationship where you can simply be yourself. The companion who has mastered the art of speaking truth in love. People who cheer you up and cheer you on can be like life-saving medicine.” (33)
I can’t wait to read the rest of the book, those first three chapters were a REAL teaser! It’s available for purchases here and here January 6th, and her website has all kinds of great resources and downloads to accompany it! There’s even a whole Bible study already created for it. This is just asking to be utilized! I’ll be purchasing it and reading the rest alongside a good friend in our book club – how will you Fight Back With Joy?
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.