January 4, 2016

What I want for 2016

20162016 is (at least on paper) already very different from the previous three years. No PCSs in sight. No lengthy separations. No new family members. Just a regular year of living (army) life with us, the kiddo, and the dogs. It’s a weird feeling, like I can let myself really settle in, finally. Not finally, of course. You know what I mean.

While considering all this the last few weeks, the concept that kept presenting itself to me was joy. In various forms, but generally in the form of my personal Bible study. (That will be its own blog post soon). My planner has in it a “mission statement” box, where you write out your personal mission statement for the year. Last year, my mission statement was explicitly Philippians 4:11-13. This year, rather than a specific passage, my mission statement originally was, “To contribute peace and beauty to my home.” But once I wrote that down, I kept finding verses about joy. To the point that it’s always in the front of my mind. So, my mission statement has been augmented. It now reads: “To contribute peace, beauty, and joy to my home.”

Now, listen, I can feel a couple of you rolling your eyes. A couple of years ago, the idea that joy would be a point of pursuit would have been too saccharine for me. It’s not nearly intellectual enough. After the way the last year has gone – so many friends losing husbands, children, parents, catastrophic loss of life, finding a brain tumor in our little niece, a rekindling war we’re going to get pulled into whether we like it or not – it does seem blase, on the surface, to seek out joy in a world that’s so dark.

Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life, and that you will have it abundantly.” The various English translations agree on this: “abundantly” involves joy. The Fruit (singular) of the Spirit are as follows: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.

Joy is promised to us as believers. So is suffering. Jesus promised us we would have complete joy…and then immediately promised we would have suffering, precisely because we are believers. **Christianity isn’t the cure-all for a happy-go-lucky everything goes my way life here on earth. It inherently involves hardship, persecution, and receiving hatred. Please believe me when I say, I don’t say this flippantly.

weasley

And I want to understand this more fully. Because a joy that’s only good in Hawaii, when everything is perfect, isn’t the joy Jesus promised us. It’s a joy that is supernatural, born of the Spirit, transcending circumstances. It’s not self-gratification, it’s not an adrenaline rush, it’s not an endorphin euphoria. I’ve seen this joy displayed in the lives of those who have suffered enormously this past year. And maybe that’s part of it – you can’t completely comprehend the power of it until you personally are in that situation. But, to the best of my ability, I want to take in as much as I can now.

So, that’s my vision (another word I can’t believe I’m using, but it’s the best I can come up with) for 2016: seeking out true, Spirit-led joy. Whatever else happens, with writing, with photography, with my weight, with the army, with the world in general, success or failure, good or bad. I want to experience and understand (“taste and see”) what the Joy of the Lord is this year.

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