With only a few days until Christmas and a week before New Years, my thoughts fluctuate between what I could have done better last year and what I want the next year to be like. In a time where it seems our society is divided, where hate is easy to express, I wish you strength of spirit. I hope your life shines with joy even in the face of hardships.
I look forward to sharing this next year with you, to making it the best year yet.
I’ve been working through a deep life concept, but I will get to that in a minute. Let me share some anecdotes that connect to the idea first.
First my youngest daughter. She is a year and a half. She is at that stage where life is simply awesome. She is learning to use the stairs, learning to talk, learning to blow kisses. She will stop eating to stand in her seat and dance. Her brothers are teaching her how to fist bump. Life is filled with everyday joy for her. At graduation this weekend a mother of one of the seniors reinforced that idea when she stopped me to say how wonderful it was to watch my daughter dance during the graduation. There is a moment in the ceremony when the seniors give roses to their parents. This year the song was “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake. The mother then said, “She could all teach us what it means to be joyful.”
As many of you know I am at a major crossroads in my life. And things are not going well regarding what next year will bring for me. I let that stress get to me a couple of days ago when I lost my cool in front of my kids. I can’t even remember why now. But as I read stories to my middle girls and asked them what their favorite things were from the day, I was brought back to the concept I had been thinking of…
I’m not talking about feeling happiness. I’m talking about a deep appreciation of the blessings we have in our lives.
Happiness is eating brownies. Joy is making the brownies for someone else and enjoying their smiles as they eat. (Of course we have a brownie, too. We can feel joy and be happy at the same time.)
Negative feelings can over shadow our lives. It takes strength to combat feelings of fear, doubt, and disappointment. That strength comes from Joy. It takes courage to see the beauty of our lives, a child’s smile or the stars shining, when we feel like our world is falling apart. The catch is that when we pay attention to those things that bring us joy that leads us to feel the strength to battle through the tough times. It is a cycle, a positive cycle that builds us up.
Joy doesn’t remove a bad situation. It gives us the strength to get through it with a loving and confident heart. To stand up and dance even if it is dinnertime.