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Robbers of joy

Something great about computerized assessments is that, when you have multiple choice tests, you can know your score rather immediately. When I finished me test on Friday, it’s safe to say I was nervous. The book I had purchased did nothing to prepare me and I had to go with my gut on almost every question. My scores were handed to me as I exited the testing area and I walked to a place where I could look up the passing scores before looking at mine. I got a seat in the atrium of the building and looked up the scores I needed. I looked at my own. I did this several times. I had surpassed the numbers by 40-77 points on various sections of the exam. To say that I was proud and excited is rather an understatement. Because I completed the test I had been told to schedule 5 hours for in about 2, I treated myself to a mani/pedi and a frozen drink on a patio in the sunshine. I had done well  and I was feeling chuffed. 

I shared the scores with friends who all gave me virtual hugs and high fives. Husband got home from work and exclaimed his pride in me and explained to Daughter what I had done. They both hugged me and made sure I was feeling an appropriate amount of confidence. Then Husband shared our family’s joy with someone else, two others who are important and close, whom he thought would partake in our celebratory attitude. “Huh. Well,” said they, “passing scores are simply a lowest common denominator of people. What’s the highest score? I don’t think it’s all that impressive.”

Just like that the wind was completely out of my sails. I had no pride in my accomplishment, no joy, I was flat and empty. Why would they do this to me? What is the point of robbing my joy? Why do they dislike me so? 

Fast forward to later in the evening and they make fun of Husband for putting on a few pounds. Husband, who is still thin and fit and healthy and sexy.  Husband, who sits next to his obese wife desperately trying not to feel embarrassed for her. Husband, who works all day, provides for his family, has a smile on his face and a whistle on his lips, gets his joy stolen. Daughter, as she is preparing for bed, washing up and singing, dancing on her toes, hears all of this. She stops singing and dancing. She holds her dear father. She loves him as he is and thinks he’s as handsome as can be. Daughter’s joy is stolen.

After feeling awful about these and a dozen other incidents like them in the past few days, I start to realize something. There are people in this world who simply survive by robbing joy. They don’t even necessarily receive their own joy from the process, but they do it anyway. It’s all they know. It’s hard on everyone around them; their children and friends and coworkers and grandchildren hate to have their joy stolen. How do we combat this and these people? We could tell them to stop, point it out each time. We could ignore it and refuse to let our sails be less full of wind. Neither of those work for me. So I have another idea.

I am going to make so much joy in the world that no matter how many people try to steal my joy, there’s always more in reserve. I’m going to spread that joy so that anyone who has a robber of joy in his or her life can have extra to pull out when they need it. I’m going to be a joy machine! Take that! Maybe if we all make more joy than anyone can steal, life will get better for everyone, even those who try to rob us. 

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