One Word for 2017

This ended up being a long post, so grab a cuppa and get comfy. I hope to see you all at the end.

Back in 2015 I started choosing One Word for the new year instead of those pesky resolutions that are always broken before the snow thaws in the spring. In 2015 Entrepreneur was facing a cancer diagnosis and my One Word was Fearless (fear less). I believe it helped me focus during that time and continues to be a reminder today.

In 2016, my One Word was Present. I wanted to focus on trying to be more engaged in life, physically, instead of living vicariously through today’s social-media-technology-addicted world. Did I succeed? Overall, I’d say I had mixed results. I did really make an effort to not be obsessed with my phone at the expense of enjoying the moment. Some days were very successful…some were colossal FAILS. But it did make me realize just how easy it is to get sucked into living a virtual life instead of a real one. Last year helped me try and find a balance and use social media more sparingly. Plus, taking care of grandchildren doesn’t lend itself to distractions! In fact, I found myself so present in their well being, work and teaching that a lot of other things took a back seat….like blogging. Which also explains why this post is more than two weeks late.

This year, my One Word is Joy.

I’ve become painfully aware that, while I enjoy a lot of activities and have had many happy moments, a deep feeling of Joy is something that has been elusive the past few years.

Most people would define Joy as feeling extremely happy or something that gives great pleasure. But I think I disagree. Happiness and pleasure are temporary…and most of the time they’re dependent on external influences. Once the source of the happiness is gone, then what? I tend to go in search of the next happy or pleasurable moment. So my life becomes a string of happy/pleasurable experiences…or not.

No, I think Joy is something completely different. To quote CS Lewis,

Joy, must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again…I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world.  But Joy is never in our power and pleasure often is.

And, oh baby, is it ever hard to find Joy in the world today. That is, if Joy is defined as something tangible and measurable. And, who doesn’t equate Joy with the feeling of satisfaction and happiness when our world is all good? But, what happens when our world falls apart? What happens when we suffer bitter disappointment, unbearable loss or extreme suffering? But, let’s not be so fatalistic. What about the days when those technology devices we are addicted to don’t work seamlessly? What about when the basement floods or the (pick an appliance) breaks? What about when, after picking up after a toddler, we turn around to feel like a tornado went through the house right behind us? What about the never-ending stress of worrying about your children’s welfare? We certainly are not happy campers during those times. How is it possible to still feel Joy when it seems as though Life’s purpose is to exhaust us into submission?

I suppose it depends on your worldview. Happy and pleasurable moments come and go. If I base my mental well-being on only the things that go right in my world I’m probably not going to be very enjoyable to be around much of the time.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
~James 1:2-3

So easy to say, so hard to live. Many times I wish God would not test my faith so much.

If I base Joy on having a worry-free, prosperity-filled life….well, let’s just say I’m setting myself up for an epic FAIL. No, I believe Joy is something felt deep in the soul. Something apart from the temporary warm fuzzies of pleasure and happiness. It’s something intangible that grounds the mind, despite the circumstance. Joy settles deep in the heart and soul, creating peace and a strength that makes a person feel they can endure the worst life will throw.

My goal this year is to be more aware of when Joy speaks to me; to pay more attention to my inner voice so I’m not distracted by the temporary elation of pleasure and happy moments when everything is going my way; to be able to feel calm amidst the irritations, inconveniences and injustices of this life.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
~Romans 15:13

And just to begin this journey with a positive attitude, here’s a photo of a recent instance where Joy made an appearance.

meridia-sunset
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
~Psalm 16:11

One word for 2015

fearlessTexture by Kim Klassen; Evolve, 50% multiply

Instead of making resolutions, many people select one word to focus on for the new year. This has been intriguing to me as I am not one to make resolutions either. But time slips away and it’s usually St. Patrick’s Day before I remember I was going to jump in and do that.

But 2015 is going to be different. With our bombshell news at the end of 2014, lots of things are going to happen this year. And I need something to help me focus. On January 1st I began mulling over different words…all good words that probably would have been beneficial.

Faith: Yes, my faith is going to be tested like never before.
Courage/Strength: Yes, we all will need courage/strength to face what the coming months have in store.
Acceptance: Yes, like it or not, there’s a chance I will need to accept the possibility of life vastly different than I’d planned.
Healing/Restoration: Yes, this would have been a good word on which to focus. Regardless of whether Entrepreneur experiences physical healing, or the emotional healing rest of us will need if he doesn’t, this would have worked well.

But the word I chose for 2015 is

Fearless

I realized fear is at the root of everything I’m feeling right now. Fear is causing me to dwell on worst case scenarios….despite putting up a seemingly optimistic front. Fear is paralyzing me with the thought of having to operate our company and personal finances by myself. Fear and sadness is consuming me with thoughts that Peanut and Twix will grow up without their Papa being an integral part of their lives. The realization that all our dreams and plans to grow old together may have been made in vain is terrifying me.

Fear is central to the human condition. Fear of the unknown and twisted perceptions is what drives most of the anxiety we experience in life. Personal peace disappears, replaced with scenarios of what ifs. Despite all our efforts to be optimistic, fear causes little seeds of doubt to take root and to grow into a tangled mess. And when that happens, we have a tendency to become hopeless and our lives fall apart.

All because of fear.

So, I choose to focus on being fearless as I pray for the courage/strength to face the trials and struggles to come. I choose to focus on being fearless and accept whatever my life will look like months and years down the road. I choose to focus on being fearless, because God tells us repeatedly to fear not. In fact, we’re reminded hundreds of times in the bible to be not afraid.

Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~Isaiah 41:10

This is my command—
be strong and courageous!
Do not be afraid or discouraged.
For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. ~Joshua 1:9

Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your hearts be troubled,
neither let them be afraid. ~John 14:27

And finally…

Be the kind of woman who,
when your feet hit the floor in the morning
the Devil says, Oh @#$%, she’s awake.

Fear less.
Fearless.

Linking up with Life Through the Lens and Friday Finds
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