Friday, January 22, 2016

Journaling Joy into the Journey

So it turned out that I had the whole thing wrong, but in the end, it turned out to be absolutely right. Don't you love it when things work out like that?

New Year's Day was almost upon us, my absolute favorite holiday of the year. I love the fresh start, the new beginning, the clean slate. I woke up on New Year's Eve excited to get my shift at work out of the way, enjoy a quiet evening at home waiting for the ball to drop and then celebrate with joy all the next day. But somewhere I had heard that what you do on New Year's Eve is what you will find yourself doing all 365 days after that. Unable to shake the thought, I lived life differently that day, as a result.

For once I jumped right out of bed when my alarm buzzed because I wanted to post an end-of-the-year message to this blog, delighted that (according to what I'd heard) such an action would ensure hours of writing joy at the computer in the year that followed. Then I grabbed my coffee and devoted the next hour to talking to God, determined by doing so to fill the coming new year with worship, Bible reading, and prayer. My last journal entries of the year were likewise made in anticipation of the new revelation that would fill the pages of the book I'd begin the next morning. Then I rushed to get ready for work. Surely clocking in on time on New Year's Eve would eliminate my struggle with tardiness in the year to come.

On and on the day went, filled with actions that I wanted to make a part of my life again in the coming year, and deliberately avoiding thoughts and deeds that I hoped to be done with forever. I smiled lots and was especially kind to my customers, embraced special friends who came through my line, and held the door to friendship open to any who might want to walk through. I focused on working hard, following the rules with care, and finding the fun in every mundane task that came my way, that I might do so in the days that followed as well.

I shared my New-Year's-Eve-action-plan with one particular friend I saw that day, and she responded with a sudden, “Oh no! My husband asked me to go jogging with him just now, and I said no, opting to go shopping instead! Does that mean I'm going to be a slug all next year, too?!” We laughed and I told her that repentance-for-mistakes-made was surely something I needed to keep alive and active in the days ahead, and this was just her opportunity to include it in her new year, too!

Because my friend had never before heard of this New Year's Eve practice I'd been following all day, as I sat on the couch enjoying the waning moments of the year I decided to google “New Year's superstitions”, just to make sure I had it right. It was a shock to learn that it's what you do in the first hour of New Year's Day that supposedly determines the course of the year that follows; it had nothing to do with New Year's Eve at all!

As I looked at the new journal and pens set out for the next morning, I realized that the day gone by hadn't been a mistake at all. What I had embarked upon just for fun turned out to be an important life lesson. I had lived the preceding hours very intentionally, giving thought to each action, purposefully including some and consciously excluding others. Truly I want to live every day of the new year in just that way, resolving not to let life just happen around me, but deliberately journaling joy into it by filling every moment with multicolored intent.

Maybe I had it right, after all.

...walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father...”
(Colossians 1:10-12 NKJV)

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