The Joy-Stealers in Our Lives:
How I Recovered My Stolen Joy
Several years ago we rented a townhome in a new community. One evening I was preparing supper when I heard loud knocking. I opened our door and stepped outside, pulling the door closed behind me. The lady’s face was so distorted that I didn’t recognize she was our neighbor. She announced that she would break my teeth and rearrange my face. I immediately regretted closing the door. There was no one around to help. I breathed, “Help, Lord,” as I tried to calm her down by asking if she needed help. Her behavior was aggressive and bizarre, and it continued over the next few weeks. Finally, her family took her to her mother’s house. But while they were distracted, she left and walked back to the townhomes property. It was dark when she arrived and began screaming at the top of her lungs and pounding on our door. I called 911 while advising my husband not to open the door. She began screeching as she spun around in circles, pointing at our home, and yelling that she knew we were inside calling the police. She called me a coward and insisted that my husband send me out so that she could settle a score with me. The police did eventually arrive, and so did her family—in a SUV with three large men (her brothers). The next knock at the door was from her mother, accompanied by one of the men. The mother apologized for her daughter’s behaviour, mentioned that she suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, and had stopped taking her medications when she and her boyfriend had broken up. Her family had not come to cause more trouble but had come to take her a mental health facility.
This experience left me fearful and stressed, and I was reluctant to go outside. I would peek out the blinds to see if it was safe to go leave our place. Feeling desperate, I called our pastor, whom is also a Law Enforcement Officer with the County Sherriff’s Department. So he was able to advise me on the personal safety issues, but he also spoke to my emotional and spiritual needs. He invited me to come to church the following Sunday; and in the opening of his sermon addressed the issue of “the Joy Stealers in Our Lives.” That hit home! It also caused me to think about what gives me great joy: Christmas and celebrating the birth of our Saviour! When I got home, I immediately began decorating our master bedroom--it was October. It took a little time, but as my joy returned the fearfulness decreased. I learned a vital lesson—not to allow life’s unexpected circumstances steal my joy. And as our family has had a difficult year, I’ve had to remind myself not to let these, sometimes overwhelming issues, steal my joy. Thus, my prayer continues to be, “Give me back the joy of your salvation. Keep me strong by giving me a willing spirit,” (Psalm 51:12, NCV).
Blessings & Peace
Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor)