Every year I choose a word or theme for the year. This past year the word was faith. The year was incredibly faith building, but also extremely painful in many ways–the needed kind. Sometimes endings bleed into new beginnings. I’ve learned that I can feel joy and sadness at the same time, which struck me because I always thought that sadness was the opposite of joy. I learned that the opposite of joy is fear. For 2016, Joy is the New Black.
Ps126:5 “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.”
The Greek word for joy is chara. It means ‘good mood of the soul’. Joy is something only found in God and comes with virtue and wisdom; both are characteristics I pray I can grow in.
Is62: 12 “They will be called the Holy People, the redeemed of the Lord; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.”
I will live and embrace the redeemed life. I wasted too much time giving way to fear and trying to muster up my own courage. I found that when you have nothing else left to lose you are free to release everything and be vulnerable. I will move forward into the future but take the lessons the past has taught with me.
When I believe my worthiness of love and belonging in God, when I accept and embrace who I am, it gives me the courage to be vulnerable and grateful. That way when I feel love it no longer brings up fear of loss. Instead, joy and gratitude equip me to face pain and hard times when they do come. Feeling joy doesn’t make things hurt less. It gives me tolerance to endure.
“When we lose our tolerance for discomfort, we lose joy.” – Brene Brown
This year I choose to live wholeheartedly. This is a calling I am still embracing and loving but I now know the risk of living wholeheartedly involves vulnerability and pain. And this too I chose to embrace.
Rm8:14-15 The true children of God are those who let God’s Spirit lead them. The Spirit we receive does not make us slaves again to fear.”
Moving forward is very much about me embracing the present and not getting ahead of myself. The memories I will build and choose to hold most sacred are going to be the ordinary everyday moments. I’ve missed out on too many of them in the past. Trying to protect myself from pain only resulted in missing out on love. There was a time in my life when I wanted to love people enough to drive out their fear and my hope was in someone to drive out mine. I learned only God’s perfect love drives out fear. Our hope needs to be in Him alone.
“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” – Marianne Williamson
Ps 94: 18-19 “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your love O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”
This past year was filled with many struggles and in the year ahead I am sure more struggles will come. But our struggles can become our defining moments if we let them. Andy Stanley said, “In Christ, even the struggle becomes a blessing because it draws us closer to our Savior.” I agree, this is where new identity is birthed, if we embrace it and I for one am choosing to embrace it.
Is 25:1-5 (MSG) God, you are my God. I celebrate you. I praise you. You’ve done your share of miracle-wonders, well-thought-out plans, solid and sure…”
Ps66:19-20 (NLT) “But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.”