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Thursday, January 3, 2013

OneWord 2013: JOY!

A college-friend of mine who is now an incredible author and blogger inspired me recently with a post about a new way to make resolutions for the new year.  Instead of getting bogged down with a list of things you'll feel you've failed at, she's started choosing a single word to meditate on, cultivate, pursue for the year.  My ADD self gets sidetracked and bogged down easily with too many options, so this sounded like an incredible idea.  And it didn't take long for me to decide on the word I wanted as my mantra for the year:  JOY! 

Joy.  Not the fleeting-happiness or smiling-through-gritted teeth or "yay, things are going well today" kind of joy.  The "count it all joy" kind of joy that makes you look for the silver linings and blessings in even the difficult circumstances.  The kind of joy that lets you smile for real, because even though things aren't going well, you are alive and can choose how you respond to your circumstances.  The deeply satisfied kind of joy that only comes from God and from leaning on Him in everything.

I've had some legitimately rough times in the last few years.  Even beyond the daily grind or work and family life, and even beyond the "I have a special needs kid" kinds of difficulties.  The kind of international news-making "this only happens in the movies, right?" kinds of challenges.  And while I'd been holding together pretty well for a long time, I've really lost it the last six months or so.  As more and more was piled on, I slipped further and further into a place of negativity that normally cheerful and optimistic me hardly recognized.  And it's been killing me.

Pity parties.  Sobbing sessions.  Relational strife on every front.  Times of sincere anger at God and resentment over my "lot" in life.

And something has got to change.  And it has got to start with me. 

It won't be easy.  I've had more tests on my resolve in these first 48 hours of the year than I would have believed possible: a raging sinus infection, a puking toddler, a speeding ticket, getting locked out of my computer network at my office (rendering a 30-minute drive there useless), along with all the usual trials and tribulations of family life.  And I've already decided that there will be days I don't do so well at this pursuit of joy I'm embarking on.  I will fail.

The perfectionist in me normally wants to give up once the record is tarnished, but the beauty of this plan is that failing, and getting right back up is precisely the point.  It's not about achieving your OneWord, but about commiting to a daily journey of pursuing and cultivating that OneWord in your life and then looking back at the end of the year over the progess that's made in itty bitty daily steps in a purposeful direction.

A clip I saw recently from the Sacred Parenting DVD series talks about how important it is that your children see that your faith matters, that it affects your life, that you are different as a result of it.  Not that you are perfect -- they clearly know you are not.  Not that you have arrived -- you clearly have not.  But that you are walking the path, pursuing better, making progress.

Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.  Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.  Watch your life and doctrine close.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.    (1 Timothy 4:12, 15-16, emphasis mine) 

Persevere.  Progress.  To me, that's what the OneWord challenge is all about.  And the thing I most want to persevere to make some progress on is seeing more joy in my life.

So, joy it is! I'm deciding now to pursue joy, to actively seek it out, hunt for it, run after it, even when it seems elusive. I'm choosing to look for the bright spots and focus on them, to recognize and spend time relishing in the silver linings in the storm clouds. And I know I can't do it without looking to God's direction, so I'm calling a truce and stepping into pace with Him again.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.   (James 1:2-4, emphasis mine)

How about you?  What do you most need to persevere in this year?  What do you most want to make some progress in this year, in tiny daily steps?  What OneWord will you choose to guide your path in 2013?

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