Did she really just say that?
What did I ever do to her?
Was it something that I said or did?
What just happened?
These are some thoughts that have crossed my mind as I went through my grade school, high school, and college years and even now as an adult whenever someone tries to intimidate me.
My parents immigrated to America from Lebanon when I was three months old. They did not speak a word of English and could not read and write the language. When I was 4 years old, my parents enrolled me in Kindergarten so that I would learn to speak English.
I was young, I was scared, and I did not want to be there. Children made fun of me because I did not speak English. I could not wait to get home every day so that I could be in a safe, loving environment. Home was a place that was free from judgment and free from the fear of people laughing at me. I would tell my parents what the other children had said, and they would hug me and reassure me that if the other kids knew better, they would not have treated me in an unkind way. My dad would always say, “You’re a happy girl, don’t let them steal your joy.”
Last week a woman that I know tried to cause trouble and blame everyone but herself regarding a very trivial matter. I was one of the people that she was trying to blame, and her behavior was upsetting to me. Later that day, I spoke with a young man who was also one of the people that she was trying to intimidate. We discussed the situation and his reply totally caught me off guard.
He said, “Don’t let her steal your joy. You’re a happy person.” He had no way of knowing that my dad used to say that to me whenever someone had upset me.
Immediately, my father’s words flooded my mind and my eyes filled with tears. My father was right. I should never allow anyone to steal my joy. I should never permit anyone to take control of the joy that is in my heart and in my thoughts. They should not be the ones who decide what kind of a day I am going to have.
I sent a message back to the woman and included all the people who were involved in this incident. I informed her that I was surprised at the tone of her email and that in the future, it would be better for her to contact people directly so that they could have a one-on-one discussion with her so that her words would not be misunderstood. I have never stood up to her before when she tried to bully people, but my father’s words and the encouragement of my husband really gave me the courage to do so. Naturally, she emailed everyone once again and tried to defend her actions. It did not matter though, because I was not going to let her control the joy of my day anymore.
I once read a quote that said, “Joy is not the absence of suffering, it is the presence of God.” I choose to allow the presence of God to fill my life with joy every day and fully intend on doing so for the rest of my life.
Are you allowing others to steal your joy?
If so, have the courage to stand up to them and then steal it back again.