how to keep choosing joy — when joy doesn’t feel possible

When I was going through a one real hard season, a friend named, Sara Frankl, who was watching the last of her life ebb way, reached out to me, and sent me a plain silver ring that she could not wear any longer. She sent it with these words: “I can’t wear it anymore as it’s too heavy on my sore fingers… It is purposefully hammered and bent, the way I often felt — the way you are feeling — but it is beautiful and perfect in its imperfections.” Sara went Home to Jesus, and I still wear the plain ring everyday, and Sara is still teaching me about choosing joy and seeking God’s purpose for my life today – no matter what that life looks like. As a mutual friend of ours, Mary Carver worked on the book that tells Sara story and shares her message of hope and joy, she was amazed and moved by the inner strength allowed her to withstand immeasurable pain both physical and emotional — and to seek the Lord through it all. Mary invites you to read an excerpt of their story today, where Sara offers her perspective on the age-old question, “Why do bad things happen?” and the more personal version, “Why me?” And Sara continues to reach out and encircle me with a wisdom to hold on to… It’s a grace to welcome Sara and Mary to the farm’s front porch today…

guest post by Sara Frankl, lovingly woven together by Mary Carver

It’s not about me.

That’s what has been popping into my head a lot lately when people ask me questions about how I deal with being sick, why I don’t get more frustrated, why I don’t complain more or why I’m not angry about my situation.

We all want life to be fair.

We want goodness to prevail and hard work to mean that life will be easier.

And that green grass on the other side of the fence that belongs to the people who don’t appreciate it?

We’d like that to be transplanted into the lawn of the person who spends all day feeding and watering the sparse-looking grass in hopes of a fruitful harvest.

But all of that is “me” thinking

and it’s not about me.

Sara with Mary

Sara with her dear friend Shannon

The plain and simple truth, if we take big lessons in life and strip them down to the bare essentials, is that we are tiny blips on a very big screen.

Only God has the capacity to see all of it.

He saw all that came before us and sees all that will come after us, and only He can know the role that each of us can play that will best serve Him and each other.

So my life isn’t ideal by our standards. By my standards, it’s getting less ideal by the year.

That whole living in pain thing? I could do without it.

The getting sick thing? Gets old really fast.

The never leaving the house thing? I could think of some fun places to go.

I miss fresh air. I miss singing at church. I miss dancing until I’m out of breath and riding in a boat so fast you feel like you’re flying if you close your eyes.

But it’s not about me. It’s about what He can do with my life.

I have learned a lot about myself, my faith, my perspective. But that doesn’t mean I was given this illness to teach me something.

For all I know, God saw this illness was going to be in my body and helped nurture me so I could use it to affect someone else.

And as much as I would like this disease to be gone when I wake up in the morning, if it serves a purpose for another person to see their life or relationship with God in a new light, then I wouldn’t ask for it to be taken from me.

Because it’s not about me.

Nothing about my life is about me; it’s about who He needs me to be.

And how can I complain about that?

Oh, complaining can come so easily for all of us: your small house, your flat tire, the promotion that should have been yours and the grass that grows so fast you don’t have the time to mow it…

But what if the small house is so you are next to a neighbor who needs your help when her husband dies?

Or your tire went flat when you were driving so it didn’t happen when your teenage son was driving and he wouldn’t have known what to do?

Maybe the promotion would have been a dead end for you and next year a better opportunity will be waiting.

And that lawn? Maybe it’s the only exercise you do each week and is saving you from a heart attack.

The point is that you don’t know. I don’t know.

But it’s not about me.

It’s about how He can use my life.

So as far as I’m concerned, even those things that make me want to pull my hair out and scream, “Why me?!?”  — are blessings in disguise.

Blessings for me, or for someone else, or for a reason I can’t even imagine.

But it doesn’t really matter.

Because it’s not about me.


Sara Frankl never stopped choosing joy — and her life never stops inspiring me to do the same.  Known as “Gitzen Girl” or “Gitz,” Sara learned – and then shared – that a life full of joy is a matter of choice and no painful circumstance can take that from us. You can read Sara’s story on her blog, Gitzen Girl, and support her ministry with the Choose Joy Foundation.

Mary Carver is a writer writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. Mary is the co-author of a new book called Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. Sara’s words breathe with vitality and life, and her stories will inspire smiles, tears, and the desire to choose joy. To learn more about CHOOSE JOY, visit A read you won’t want to put down.