Joy Beyond You, Joy Beyond Me

2015 was quite the year. Two major downers, but the rest was very good!

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To find your own saint for the year, check out Jennifer Fulwiler’s Saint Name Generator!

In reflecting on these past 365 days, I’m thrilled to find new joy in life at the end. I’ve started reading a book called 1000 Gifts (by Ann Voskamp, a most favourite author) which is a challenge as much as it is a story of being challenged. That is, to name 1000 gifts from God in my life.

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster and came at a time when I needed to actively look for joy in the small things. The timing of the start this journey and certain experiences has caused me to reflect on who truly initiated this endeavour, and I’m thankful that my prayer life has inexplicably grown in and amidst this gifts journey. Writing these daily gifts down has reaffirmed that life is a gift, even in its worst times. It is slowly creating habit in me and has helped me look at scenarios in much more positive ways. I’m still working on the timing of it, though. Being able to see the gifts and joy in the here-and-now of a bad situation doesn’t yet come easy to me. But I still force myself to take toll of the gifts shortly after so that I can learn to embrace the good that can come with the bad. I hope that eventually I might be able to look and see the bad as gift, too, and praise God for life. Seems quite lofty, doesn’t it? I have no doubts that it’s possible, though.

Even in the smallness that is always at the beginning of a journey, I find I have been led to forgiveness much more easily. I don’t think I can even explain it well, but when I can see the joy in my life, despite the bad circumstances, I’m able to realise that no one can steal my joy that is Jesus. If I have Jesus, I have no reason to linger on hurt or pain. Does it mean that the hurt or pain is right? No, by no means does my joy justify the hurt and pain. But I can still choose joy. In the past when I’ve chosen bitterness, when I’ve chosen the grudge, when I’ve chosen the anger, when I’ve chosen not to see the gift, I am left hurting. I am left in pain. I leave myself that way. But in choosing the gift, someone could tell me that my love for them is abuse. Someone could tell me that I’m egocentric and only think of myself all the time. Someone could knock the wind out of me physically and spit on me for sharing my faith. And I now have a way that I can still choose joy, whether there is truth in the statements or none at all. And in choosing joy, I can let go of that hurt and pain and find forgiveness lingering ever-nearer to my reach.

Choosing joy does not mean I don’t recognize my own faults. In fact, it’s brought much more attention to them than I paid in the past. It would seem that when one looks up to the Son and when one’s heart is looking for gift, looking for God’s glory, the dark spots in my visual range become evident against the glory of God. Those dark spots are my problem spots. I can see them more clearly when I look for God’s glory, for God’s gift, everywhere in my life. All it took from me was to keep my face toward God rather than my life and its’ problems, and now I am able to better see what is preventing me from both receiving God’s glory in my life and also what is preventing me from sharing it. It is my belief that the more I walk this strangely laid pathway the more I’ll notice those spots. It’s given me better reconciliation sessions than I’ve had in years, and I’m very grateful for that.

Progress. It’s no insignificant thing to feel progress in my spiritual life after what has felt like years of slow plodding. I am so grateful and so very much looking forward to practicing this Gift-Sight in this new year. While it doesn’t make me perfect, learning that no one can steal my joy has been a real life changer. And to that connection, I thank Audrey Assad’s music from her album Fortunate Fall (in particular, Good to Me).

What joy are you finding at the beginning of this year?

Loving God through my family, friends, and interactions in my world.

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