Yesterday I completed one of my goals for 2019, to read two books every single month. Thats 24 books that I have read over the last twelve months. When I set down my final book, I felt so much joy, not only because I was proud of myself for accomplishing this but because it had helped me to grow and to learn about myself. The past few years I had not even completed reading 5 books, I am notorious for starting books and not finishing or filling my schedule so full that I didn’t even have time to read.
The last one that I read was given to me by a friend, and it was the perfect one to end on. Its called You’re the Girl For the Job and as I read it I was reminded of how far i’ve come this past year. So here’s just a quick glimpse into a few of those things.
Last year the word I felt like God gave me was joy. Being a naturally optimistic and bubbly person I was a little surprised and honestly had expectations that 2019 would be great and easy for me. I pictured all these big joyful moments and things being bright and cheery. All the nice warm things associated with joy.
Would I be getting engaged? Would I finally find answers to all my health stuff that had been going on? Would I finally come to a point where my counseling journey didn’t feel so long and tiresome? Would Ricky and I find a good strong small group/community? These are only a few of the questions that went through my head at the beginning of the year as I optimistically jotted down that three letter word JOY in my bible.
Yet as the year unfolded, I found that things were really hard.
I had more anxiety then normal. I got in my first major car accident and moved to loveland.
I found the more I wholeheartedly committed to finding healing in counseling the more I found to work through and the more I recognized unhealthy patterns and beliefs.
I transitioned jobs three times. I got strep, the flu ad pneumonia/bronchitis all within 6 weeks. I lost a few friendships that I had held very close to my heart and found that I felt isolated and frustrated more often than not.
I felt a lot of things, but joy most definitely wasn’t the most foundational and prominent.
None of this is to discount the good moments intermixed. Being surrounded by a loving community when I got my colonoscopy. I found some health answers and started to pursue photography more seriously. I experienced Disney land for the first time with Ricky and countless other moments.
Yet despite all the ups and downs, this is a year that my roots grew deeper and I recognized that Joy isn’t interchangeable with happiness but it is something so much richer.
In my counseling journey I discovered that Joy comes from dealing with things head on no matter how tough it feels. Fighting for yourself is always worth it, and walking through painful things shows you just how strong you are. Going to counseling has helped me to be a better communicator, to be self ware and to start changing the way I view myself.
Joy is being able to worship despite our circumstances. Even when the ground beneath your feet is cracking in drought and the sun is ever bearing down with full strength.
Joy is recognizing that His love is refreshing your heart and that His grace is perfect provision in every situation.
True joy comes from recognizing your hard work has paid off and that your roots are growing deeper.
For me joy came through a conversation with my roommate two days ago where we both recognized the growth and progress being made in our lives when it comes to boundaries and to standing up for our own hearts and emotions.
Joy is knowing that His perfect love truly does cast out fear and I am entering 2020 with a newfound confidence that can only come from having seen HIs faithfulness in both the good and hard days.