Choosing Joy in 2016

As I begin the month of February I’m thinking about my one little word (OLW) for 2016 – Joy.

I thought it might be interesting to jot down a few words about what I’ve learned about joy this past month and hopefully each month I can track my progress.

In December, I picked my word. I picked joy because I wanted to focus on being more joyful. I picked the word Joy because I wanted to focus on doing things that bring me joy. Last year I focused on hope and having hope for the future and this year I wanted to have joy in the moment and in the present.

However, at the end of December I received some tough news and I felt nothing even close to joy. I learned my dad, a pastor, had been laid off due to finances a week before Christmas. I realized that the church family and community I had, I had to leave. I was devastated. I know God has a plan and that God has my Dad, the church, and my family in the palm of his hand…but it doesn’t make it any easier. I have never felt at home at church before coming to this one. It previous churches I felt alone, lonely, and on the fringes…but here I had found my place, my community and a faith family. Leaving the church meant giving up the 3 committees I was on, not being able to teach Sunday School anymore or run VBC and giving up my two Bible Studies ( I ended up finding a way around that) but it felt like a lot of loss. So yeah, joy isn’t on my radar right now.

To be honest, I spent most of January considering changing my OLW, trying to figure out what to change it to. Joy in the midst of hurt, uncertainty, sadness and feeling lost is really hard. I don’t feel joy and I can’t imagine seeing/finding joy anytime soon. Yet, here I was stuck with this OLW.

But what kept dawning on me, was that God had a reason for me to pick this word. He knew this would be a rough start to 2016 and he wanted to me to find joy. He knew it would be hard but he wants me to discover what true joy is.

So what have I learned in January about joy?

Joy is a choice. It’s a conscious, wake up every day and decide you’re going to have joy today kind of choice. It’s not easy but in every situation you can choose to find the joy – but you have to be willing to look for it and you have to actually choose it.

Over and over I had the verse “For the joy of the Lord is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10) ringing in my head. Hmmmm…. Maybe when I don’t feel joyful I should look to the Lord and he will give me strength and HE will be my joy.

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