"Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for JOY. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything." (James 1: 2-4, NLT)
Of course, this verse also comes to mind when I think of the word JOY:
"But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23)
This word came to me while I was in the garage riding on my bike trainer, of all places. I was listening to Christmas music since it was Christmas Eve, and the song was "Joy to the World/Unspeakable Joy" by Chris Tomlin. I absolutely love this song and jam to it frequently during the holiday season, but for some reason - this time - it just hit me in such a deep and powerful way, and I knew that my Word of the Year for 2014 should be JOY!
The biggest reason I want to focus on JOY in this year is my children. I do not want them remembering their childhood with a grumpy mom. And yeah, I am grumpy. Most of the time. And quick to express my grumpiness and, unfortunately, to take it out on them. Being a homeschooling mom who is with my children ALL the time, this is simply not a good thing.
|Mom? Is that you??|
As I was preparing this post, I wanted to reflect on how I feel like the "Word of the Year" each year has built on one another to lead me to this point. So I looked up my previous "Word of the Year" since I started doing it in 2008, and boy was I surprised. Notice anything unusual about 2011??
2013 - Hope
2012 - Courage
2011 - Joy
2010 - Trust
2009 - Trust
2008 - Trust
Yep, in 2011 my Word of the Year was also Joy. I had NO recollection of that, and I can tell you without a doubt that 2011 was one of the least joy-filled years of my entire life.
BUT, this also serves to prove the point I was setting out to make - these years have built upon each other. Trust - the Word of the Year for 3 LONG years - was a very hard one for me. But it was foundational. However, jumping from struggling to Trust right into Joy?? Wow, that was not smart at all. I was not nearly mature enough in my faith to jump from Trusting God (and having SUCH a hard time with it) to focusing on expressing Joy in trials - and 2011 was FULL of trials, especially the last half of the year.
Courage, I think, would have been the more practical Word to follow Trust. But it wasn't given to me that way, and that's OK. I think it makes it much more powerful for me to see that I attempted to focus on Joy back in 2011 and fell flat on my face. It's OK - now I have another chance, and thanks to the last two years where I have focused on being Courageous and having Hope, my chances of expressing Joy are much better!
I have to tell you, though - when I saw that I used "JOY" in 2011 (and with the same verse, no less) it gave me pause. You see, in 2011, I attempted a huge personal goal - running my first full marathon, and going even further than that by trying to run two full marathons within a week to become a Marathon Maniac. I was unsuccessful in that attempt due to an injury from which I am now, finally, recovered. That issue, combined with Austin's depression and talk of suicide in September, and the return of his seizures in November, meant that I was the epitome of the complete opposite of JOY.
This year, 2014, I am attempting another huge personal goal - my first Half Ironman triathlon in late September. Part of me is really apprehensive now to know that my Word of the Year is the same this year, knowing that I am frequently tested in my Word. But another part of me - the louder part, I hope - knows that I am much, much stronger in my faith now than I was 3 years ago. And I am also much stronger in my sense of self . That failure to achieve my goal and the subsequent recovery from the entire situation made me stronger physically and mentally as well. I am simply not the same person that I was in 2011, Praise God!!
Needless to say, 2014 is going to be an interesting year! In addition to my personal fitness goals, it's also a big year for our family. Austin turns 18 in the spring! I am going to be in my first dance recital that same day! Riley will be old enough to get her learner's permit to drive a car. My husband and I celebrate our 20th anniversary this summer, and we are hoping to take a "honeymoon" trip (since we never got a real honeymoon) to the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony! And in the fall, Austin begins his Senior Year of high school! WOW!
See why JOY is such an appropriate word for the year ahead?? I will have so much going on, and so many chances to get overwhelmed with life and the busy-ness and the pressure. But no matter what happens, God is in control, and He loves me and my family, and I Trust Him completely! I will have the Courage to face the good things and the bad things that are certain to happen in this life, and I will press on with Hope that everything will work together for my good. And I will do my very best to express the Joy that comes from the assurance that I have as a child of God!
Have a very blessed New Year's Day! If you have chosen to do a Word of the Year, please comment and share it with me, or if you have blogged about it, link your blog in the comment!