Everyone's doing it: naming their year, choosing their one little word, the word they hope will define the new year for them. I've been thinking on it for a while, but really, I didn't have to think too hard. One of the prompts for reverb10 was to choose a word that defined 2010 and think of one that you hoped would be a fitting title for 2011. My choice was simple. I chose Joy.
It's something I struggle with holding onto in the busyness of my days. My house is loud, and often crazy. Of course it is, you may say, you have four young kids! A lot of the noise though, is inside; the part of me that craves distraction, that flits between imagining the future and remembering the past. It's the part of me that doesn't want to face the present moment with its needy children and dirty dishes and poopy diapers, that would rather check email or facebook one more time and put off the thing that really needs doing. It's the part that sometimes spends more time reading about home management than actually trying to implement those good ideas, that often feels utterly overwhelmed and lost in the myriad of daily responsibilities that pile up along with the laundry. Or that feels like my children are an intrusion into my time, my plans, my day, as if my life is not about serving them, loving, and pouring my life into them.
My desire is to become more aware of those feelings as they pop up, the feelings of frustration, of being critical, or angry, the ones that steal the joy right out from under me. I want to meet them at the door, firmly tell them they're not welcome in my life, and by the grace of God not invite them in. Instead I'm inviting thankfulness and gratitude to take their place; that's the plan. I'm going to actively look for things to be thankful for in the situations that tend to frustrate me. I believe that in doing this, I will find the joy I so long for.
So, this year, I plan to cultivate joy, knowing that it will not be an overnight change. Like planting a garden, I will seek to ready the soil of my heart, plant seeds of thankfulness, water those seeds, pull the weeds of ingratitude, and look forward to bearing some fruit in time. I will try to say yes to my kids more often, to live in the moment, to quiet my inner noise so I can really listen to the precious voices of my children and savor the moments I'm given with them. I will try to obey Saint Paul's instruction to to give thanks in all things. I know I'll fail, many times, but I will remember the mercies that are new every morning. I will, by God's amazing grace, choose Joy.