It’s a little over a week into the new year as I write this and the hustle and “newness” of the season is starting to wear off a little, or at least it seems to be wearing off to me. As I have reflected on the past year, I’ve noticed that despite not intentionally doing so, I picked a “word of the year” last year: Rest.
It was important to me to find the balance between life and rest, and in finding life in rest. Looking back, I see how important it was. Part of being able to rest is having peace that you don’t have to “hustle” to accomplish something, and it requires trust that by taking time out of our busy day to rest in Jesus, we will actually accomplish much more. Just as a word in the dictionary requires other words to define it, I believe a “word of the year” require some definitions as well.
I was thinking through that and was trying to decide what I wanted to do, if I should choose a word or if I should just let one choose me as I go through life and see what pops out. As I sat doing my devotions one morning, some questions popped into my head, and it reminded me of some comments that have been made during church recently.
What is my purpose as a writer? As a wife? As a friend? As a daughter, sister, aunt, cousin?
Those questions, or perhaps simply just “what is my purpose?” made me pause and think what other people seem to think I am good at. If you ask me, I’d probably say I’m good at reading, Andrew says I’m good at cooking, the church I work for seems to think I am good at my job, but are any of those things actually my purpose in life?
My mind was drawn to something I’ve heard by those who were around me when I was growing up, and more recently when I spent time in the hospital because of my lung collapsing. Friends and family have told me that they look at me and what I’ve been through, and it makes it easier for them to carry on because they see what I’ve gone through and see the joy I have, so they know they can have joy too.
While it’s an honor to hear what I consider high praises being said about me, it’s also very humbling and can be uncomfortable because to me, that doesn’t feel true.
I do try my best to not be negative about situations, but what people don’t see are the lines in my journals about my anxiety and how tired I am of all this, or the spontaneous break downs that Andrew or Mountain Pie get to sit through helplessly.
They also don’t see how I usually don’t see my situations as being something that’s difficult to go through. That might sound silly or like I am trying to brush things off. Sometimes they really are difficult things that most people don’t have to deal with, but there are people who have it worse than I do and that’s what I see. I don’t see myself as incomplete because I have issues I can’t change, nor do I really wish my life were another way because I know if it was, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
I see me living the life I’ve been given, and they see joy.
I know this isn’t a bad thing, because if it leads people closer to Jesus, I am all for it. But it feels like an un-earned badge I have that I can’t get to fit quite right or comfortably because I don’t feel like I’ve earned it. Do you relate to that? Has anyone ever told you something positive about yourself that you disagree with or don’t see and it makes you uncomfortable?
I find it strange how we so readily accept the negative things people say about us, but the positive things aren’t so easy. Shouldn’t it be the other way? I would love to see myself the way Andrew does, but I am too judgmental for that. I want to feel like I can wear joy proudly and own it, but I struggle with it.
So, in the quiet as I was writing and reflecting, my word of the year found me.
I believe my purpose this year is to better understand joy so I can share Jesus more fully through the joy I have through him. Would you join me in my quest to find and better understand what joy is?
The Oxford Dictionary defines joy as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness” but as a Christian, I believe it is defined differently. Joy isn’t just pleasure or happiness. Rick Warren says, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.“