Choose Joy // A New Year Commitment

I love the start of a new year! It’s a fresh start – a chance to do better. True, every day is a fresh start “with no mistakes in it” (thank you, Anne!), but there’s something about that New Year’s Eve countdown as the perfect beginning.

Generally speaking, resolutions aren’t my favorite. Often what’s a priority at the start of the year isn’t a priority come summer time. So instead, I’ve been focusing on a word, or a phrase, that sums up how I want to feel at the end of the year.

Last year, I focused on “Simplify”. For me, it was more than just clearing clutter. It was about simplifying my days, simplifying what I focus on, so I had the time and white space to focus on what matters to me – family, faith and home. This is why this last year has been SO quiet here on the blog. It was intentional. I needed to make space and to simplify.

An old snow picture of our backyard, but simplifying last year just cleaned the slate. Made everything feel fresh and new.

Even if I felt like I wasn’t staring “simplify” in the face, day in and day out, I naturally was leaning on simplifying.

It. Just. Happened.

And I learned a few things about myself, because I cleared out so much mental space.

1. I figured out that I am most effective when I have an outside influence to see what I’m doing. I am NOT good at holding myself accountable. I am envious of people (my sister is one!) who can just state a goal and, if they are passionate and dedicated, they just do it. No need to ask “hey! How are you doing with _______?”. They just get it done. I’m not that way. I need someone to hold me accountable – even if they don’t know that’s what they’re doing.

Perfect example of this – since the summer, I’ve been working on revamping our church’s website. It’s something I can do! I’m uniquely qualified for that. And I was happy to do it! But I got discouraged in myself when I couldn’t get it “just right”. So the task slipped down the to-do list. No one really knew I was doing this project. Just my husband and a few other people. I knew it NEEDED to be done, but it wasn’t like anyone was breathing down my neck, looking for this. I finally had to tell our pastor that he needed to give me a deadline and to start asking about it! He resisted, saying it wasn’t necessary. He knew I was busy. But I needed that outside accountability. And, phew, it’s finally done!

2. I am a perfectionist. This I have always known. But I’m the kind that has a hard time doing something if I can’t do it right or perfect the first time, and with little help from someone. I have a hard time asking for help. Have I mentioned that I like to have control over things? But little by little, I notice when it rears its ugly head and I can swat it down.

3. My “love language” is definitely quality time. Time with my husband, time with friends, time with kids. I get such JOY from spending time with people. I don’t need a gift. I just want to sit, at a table, tea in hand, and have a chat. And simplifying my time last year helped leave a lot of space for that!

Simplifying and clearing the space freed up a chance to learn a little more about myself and how to make my day-to-day click.

And so, on to 2018!

With all that space clearing, it seemed that I should only be filling up that empty space with things that bring me joy!

So this year, I am going to:

 So I settled on this word about a month ago, with the goal of having this post go up last week. But we got sick last week… and then this past weekend there were just more fun things to do than to write a blog post.

And I’m so grateful I delayed this.

Sometimes, laziness is a positive thing.

Monday morning, I was at my Bible study. We’re doing a study of John and using Jennie Allen’s study guide Proven. It’s a great study so far!

We were discussing John 6, and in particular the feeding of the 5,000. It’s a story we all learned as children. Elizabeth could tell you this story with all the appropriate detail!

But something fun happens when you hear those same stories as an adult. You pick up on new details. Your friends share wisdom and insight about a story that you never thought of before.

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We were discussing how the disciples and the crowds that followed Jesus were constantly searching for a way to “check the box” of salvation. “What must I do to be saved?” And in this particular story, there is this HUGE crowd that’s followed Jesus to a hillside because they just witnessed him heal the sick. And Jesus asks “How can we feed these people?” knowing that there is no WAY 12 disciples can do it. The disciples are flummoxed. They have no idea. One even finds a little boy with a meager lunch, but it would at best serve this boy and Jesus, let alone the 5,000.

They are STRIVING to meet the expectations of the crowd. Striving to answer Jesus’s question… instead of just resting in the one who, a chapter ago, healed people! Jesus is with you! He’s got this! And then when Jesus begins to feed that massive crowd, he doesn’t just produce just enough food. He provides an abundance! An overflowing! There were 12 baskets of leftovers!

So then I look at me. I’m constantly striving! I’m striving to meet the expectations of myself and others. I throw myself at tasks and projects, perhaps with good intentions at first, but now I’m just surviving, or doing them for selfish reasons.

I’m filling my life with things that zap the joy. I rarely take the time to just relish in the joy that’s around me. I am outwardly a joyful person, but inwardly I am struggling to find joy in the every day.

As these thoughts are flowing in my head during our Bible study, we switch gears to watch the corresponding video.

And BAM!

Jennie Allen said something that completely got stuck in my head. It was God saying “Yep! This is your year to rediscover that joy I have for you! Stop striving and lean in to the joy, Katie!”

I’m learning to enjoy my calling, instead of the burden of being driven by it. – Jennie Allen

So I know that I chose well. I know that Joy will be my song this year. I plan on filling our weekends with brunch dates with friends. I plan on doing more staring out of the window, just enjoying the nature. I plan on taking long walks in silence. I plan on being goofy with my children! I plan on looking for ways to serve my husband. I plan on continuing to serve in my community and church BUT getting back to the reason I am there – that God called me to serve, not for my own selfish glory.

I also plan on singing “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!” a lot. Out loud. Because…. why not?

Friends – there is so much joy out there! We get caught up in our own trials and troubles that we forgot to look around at the abundance God has poured on us!

Will you choose joy with me this year?

One comment

  1. Whitney says:

    What a great message and theme for the coming year! Cheers to more joy!! I think I’d definitely get more joy out of my day if I focus more on the little people around me (like looking into their eyes and laughing at their silly antics) rather than focusing my attention on my to do list. Thanks for the reminder and challenge. You’ll have to get yourself one of those cute Choose Joy t-shirts. I’ve always wanted one.

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