A few years ago instead of making a bunch of resolutions at the beginning of a new year, I resolved to instead choose a word representing my desire for what the year could bring or what I hope God would specifically shape in my heart over a 365 day period.
2016 was the year of dwelling.
2017 was the year of joy.
In many ways 2017 has sucked.*
Amy Poehler writes in her book, Yes, Please, “Imagine spreading everything you care about on a blanket and then tossing the whole thing up in the air. The process of divorce is about loading up that blanket, throwing it up, watching it all spin, and worrying what stuff will break when it lands.”
Now, obviously, I have never been divorced. Or married.
But in a lot of ways, 2017 was a year of loading up the blanket, tossing it in the air, and seeing what would happen when things landed.
Friendships shifted in ways I didn’t expect.
I experienced spiritual warfare in the most personal, physical way that I have never experienced before.
The hope of a budding relationship and a life of non-singleness didn’t pan out the way I thought it would.
And that’s just, like, 17% of the past year.
God didn’t leave me.
While some friendships shifted away, others moved even closer and grew even deeper.
In the midst of the battlefield, Jesus took up His sword and fought on my behalf.
God showed me, yet again, that He alone is the true lover of my whole self.
God didn’t leave me without.
And that’s why it truly was the year of joy.
On the outside looking in, it probably wouldn’t be labeled a joyful year.
But on the inside, I know in the core of who I am, that joy is not defined by my circumstances.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. – Romans 14:17
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. – James 1:2-4
(Jesus speaking, after talking about abiding in Him) These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. – John 15:11
You see, my joy – by God’s grace – is Him. It is a deep, abiding truth that He will never leave me or forsake me. That in Christ, I am loved and known and treasured, and in turn can love and know and treasure the One who has come to set the captive free.
I don’t think my journey with joy is over – but I do think that in the midst of all the tossing, this is what has landed: the joy of the Lord is my strength.
*but also, my baby sister got married and is now going to also have a baby of her own, SO THAT’S REALLY COOL!