I hesitated writing a blog post about the new year because I knew it would be more personal than most. I tend to shy away from anything pertaining to too much about my personal life knowing that my blog is public for all to see. Occasionally, though, I feel lead to share something from the heart and this is one of those times. Last December I prayed for a word that would reflect the new year for me, I’ve done this for the last half dozen years. Many people use this concept, they choose or pray about what their word will be to guide them through a new year. I’m a big fan of this idea and rely on prayer to help me choose a focus word. Previous years I’ve focused on words like surrender, arise and redeemed as my “word of the year.” All of these words have helped me to practice living my faith more fully and experience God at a deeper internal level. I’m forever grateful for these years, they guided me through some rough times.
Joy was my word for 2017. Like most do on New Year’s Day, I sit and reflect on the past year – I can’t help but smile in satisfaction at how well two-thousand and seventeen performed itself. I had no expectation of how joy would affect my life, in fact I assumed focusing on joy would help me to be a more joyful person in spite of difficulties. Honestly, after years of recovering from heartbreak and sorrow I was hoping for a break but didn’t anticipate God to work in the ways He did! I started the year off falling in love, something I didn’t plan or expected but that I am so thankful for. I celebrated a year of work in my career after graduating from college. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to be a part of a book launch for Called to Create. The kids and I have done some traveling and have had some great opportunities come our way, and I’ve been blessed and with so many new friendships this year. There have been Cubs games, cave explorations, a Disney World adventure, Chicago trips, lazy lake days, parties, concerts, a sister married, a new nephew on the way, and lots of coffee dates. Oh, how I have been blessed even on my worse days.
I think about how for some it was a year of distress and hardship. I’ve watched several people close to me have their lives turned upside down and many relationships become broken. As thankful as I am that this past year was a year of joy for me, my heart broke for the many who suffered a year from hell. I say this quiet literally because I have experienced those type of heart-shattering years. I know. And when I think of how great my year has been there is almost a guilt that creeps in to tell me that I don’t deserve a good year and convinces me that suffering will circle around again soon enough. But, that is a lie. It’s the type of lie the enemy attempts to use to distract me from the goodness God has supplied. Regardless of how great things are that is one spiritual battle that will always be there as long as I (and you) are living. Those battles don’t define our joy or the joy that is to come. I’ve held God’s promise close to my heart. I’ve clenched it because I need it. We all do, it is where hope emerges and joy proceeds.
My prayer for the next year is that the brokenhearted will experience pure joy and the joyous will not lose sight of that promise. This is your year, it is declared to you.
“His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.” Psalms 30:5