Last year my word of the year was “purposeful”. I started thinking of my word of the year this year and honestly I wanted to re-use last years since I think I could still use a lot of …we will call it practice with being more purposeful. As this year begins I have so much to be thankful for. Yet in the midst of all the wonderful gifts I have I often find myself bogged down by obligations, expectations (my own more often than not) and everyday stress. It is certainly true what they say that this is the most hardest yet best time of your life. Another cliché saying seems to describe this season of life well too: The days are long but the years are short.
I constantly am finding myself struggling against the stress and discontentment that can often come with the business of infants, toddlers and preschoolers (of which I have one of each!). Then I find myself struggling against guilt and regret for not having more : more patience, more perspective, more laughs, more contentment, more peace, more strength…man, I could really use more strength! What I really need more of is God. I need to find all the more I need each day in Him. As I thought about my word of the year one verse kept circling back to my head :Nehemiah 8:10 “The joy of the Lord is your strength”. So, I made my word for the year joy. I want the joy of the Lord to be my default-what I always resort to, my rock, where I find my strength.
I am going to try to revel more in the joy of the Lord and draw my strength from the truth of how much He has blessed me. I am not going to base my attitude or my emotions on the circumstances I find myself in-good or not so good. So often I beat myself up because I do not have more joy and life just oozing out of my pores. I tell myself over and over to look at what, actually who, God has given me and try to talk myself into having more natural joy. When I look at who God has given me I do feel blessed. But the honest truth is when I base my joy solely on the gifts of God in human form along with knowing I am blessed I sometimes feel other things too. Sometimes I am aggravated, hurt, lonely, overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, exhausted, bored, disgusted, discontent, disappointed. This year I am going to find my joy and strength not in earthly things, however wonderful they may be. Especially since the hard truth is that even the most wonderful of gifts, like my husband and little ones, are not promised to me. Whether I want to think about it or not, they are fleeting. I am going to choose to find my strength in the joy of the Lord and in the Gospel, which will never change, never die, never disapoint. What God did for me in leaving Heaven and coming to live on this dirty, miserable earth, taking my punishment, rising from the dead and ascending to Heaven to prepare a place for me is more than enough to cover the joy and strength I need for each day.
I spent a lot of time thinking over this Christmas, especially in light of the horrific events in CT, what it took for God to willingly send His son to earth, to be separated from Him knowing that His mission was to die an excruciatingly painful death He did not deserve. The events in CT could very easily send me to a place of fear and anxiety but I am choosing to let them send me to a place of joy. Certainly not joy in the suffering of children, families and a community but rather joy in that two thousand years ago and change my God decided to do something I could never do and sacrifice His child for me. This year I will choose to find my joy and thus my strength in the astounding truth of the Gospel. This should give me a sense of security, (perhaps strength?), in a very uneasy world. I obviously have no idea what the next twelve months will bring. Certainly it will bring its share of happiness and pain. I pray that I will never have to face what those poor families are enduring in CT, but I also pray that I will draw my srtength from the Lord and find joy in all circumstances,whatever they may be.