Roughly one year ago today last January, I walked into my doctor’s office and said, “I need you to put me back together. I’m a total mess. Everything is wrong.”
Some make New Years Resolutions. We decide to get back in the gym, eat more kale, declutter the pantry, read to our kids more, stop drinking 2 glasses of box wine every night…. the list goes on. I could sit here and make my own self a checklist which include:
- stop my nightly peanut butter make out session (who else escapes to the pantry with a spoon?)
- have more intentional car conversations with my kids
- no more overextension of myself
I’m 99.9% sure that by January 31 2016, I will have miserably failed. So in an attempt to not fail, I just never make the list. Hashtag: winning.
While I never make ‘the list’, I can’t deny the fact that a new year is also a fresh start –a change in seasons, both literally & metaphorically. I also can’t deny that over the past 5 years or so the Lord has given me sort of ‘theme’ for the year. For example there was the year that I had struggled with having a serving heart and felt selfish & begrudging with all my time. That year the Lord popped some pride bubbles and put me directly into areas where I could SERVE. Then there was the year that the Lord just straight up called me out and said “You are to be BOLD in your OBEDIENT and OBEDIENT in your BOLDness”. That’s when I started writing.
From “WORKED OUT to HEALTHY”
At the humble little church we attended for about 2 years, the women always got together for a Christmas party. As women like to do, a gift exchange is involved. But the gift exchange was not a random $20 white elephant gift. You were instructed to bring a gift that represented your year and your walk in your faith. The year that the Lord gave me BOLDness I came with a leopard print scarf and a tube of red lipstick. Some people have brought plants to represent a year of GROWTH, or candles to represent being a LIGHT, or even boxing gloves to represent a year that had been a BATTLE… you get the idea. In 2014, as I prepared for the party, the only thing that could come to mind about the year I had in 2014 was that I was worn out. I felt completely worked out physically and emotionally. I had been sick and on antibiotics 10 times which resulted in a tonsilectomy, I kept injuring myself, my marriage and friendships had been challenged, family tensions were high with extended family— I was just spent. To represent that, I brought a Lululemon headband as my gift: a headband that one would wear for a workout so that they could keep the hair and sweat out of their eyes to see clearly. While the headband itself was oohed & ahhed over, the meaning behind it of “the year I was WORKED OUT” was not so much desired by all.
That year of “WORKED OUT” in 2014 is what landed me in my doctor’s office last January desperate for a change.
And here we are one year later. January of 2015 the Lord put the word “HEALTHY” on my heart. And these are just a few snippets of our life since then:
- I have only been on antibiotics once.
- We left a church that was spiritually unhealthy for us.
- We have moved into a different lifestyle for longterm financial health and emotional health of our children
- The older boys have moved to a better place educationally by changing schools and attending occupational therapy
- I went through a 12 week intensive Recovery program at church that pretty much sweated out all the junk in my life and brought it to the surface to face
- In April of this year, I took my last anxiety/antidepressant pill and haven’t looked back!
This is a NOT a list to brag and say look at all the stuff I did. This is my list of proof that the Lord has a plan for us. He foresees what we need when we need it and gives it to us. In many ways, there was just some instant healing this year. But there has also been some walking through it this year. Similar to how you’d sweat out a fever when you have the flu; the trials this year have been miserable in the thick of it, but have felt so amazing once we reached the other side because it brought us that much closer to the Lord. Once you’re on the other side, you learn to appreciate the sickness and how it got you to “HEALTHY“.
What’s For This Year?
Usually I don’t even think about what the Lord might have for my next year until January comes. A girlfriend was over a couple of weeks before Christmas and she said “You know, I really need some joy. I am praying to find more JOY next year.” And I exclaimed “That’s it!! I am stealing your JOY!!! Not really…I am totally copying that though.”
Sweating out the impurities in the journey of physical, emotional, and spiritual health has been amazing, but also heavy. There has been very little lighthearted JOY So that is my prayer for 2016. That I would find JOY in all things, JOY in the little things, JOY in the hard things. I complain often and praise little. I allow my ‘JOY‘ to come from a performance from my husband, skill from my children, or a task I’ve completed. I allow my contentment to be measured by a thing or action rather than my contentment being in Christ and what He did for me.
It’s Not a Choice… sorta
I wish I could just say the cliché’ “Choose JOY” and live happily ever after. And if it were that simple, to just “Choose JOY” daily, we would all have it. Because who chooses being angry? In some sense we all choose anger, hurt, fear, and all the things that lead to our own darkness when our hope is in earth rather than in Christ. But if I say that I personally am going to choose, how exactly does that happen? I cannot always choose Joy as if I am simply choosing an apple over an orange. But I can choose where I place my hope.
For someone who has admittedly battled depression, this is no choice, friends. This will take a divine intervention of grace. My eyes will have to be opened to see the goodness of Him and my heart will have to be nurtured to feel His love. I cannot do those things on my own. This will not be an instant choice I make, it will be a journey. So when I am not joyful, I will choose to read my bible, I will choose to pray, I will renew my mind. I will sing songs of his goodness. I will choose to re-orient my worldview through the lens of Christ, His cross, and the good news of the Gospel. And, sometimes, joy is in the journey.
What About You?
So what is YOUR word for the year? Maybe you have JOY in the bag already? Maybe you need STRENGTH or HEALING? Maybe it’s DISCIPLINE or SERVICE or HUMILITY? Think about what gift you would have brought to that Christmas party this past year and what you’d rather bring next year instead.