I Choose Joy
by Tiara Marenco
As January approaches, we are bombarded with advice columns on how to make resolutions, how to follow resolutions and how to succeed with our resolutions. I feel like the New Year is something that is simply put on a CD and as the clock strikes midnight a great invisible finger pushes the repeat button. I believe in setting goals, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t personally say I’ve ever dropped 30 pounds due to a champagne promise made while waiting for my black eyed peas to boil.
So this year, I’ve decided to make a promise that requires less dedication. I’m going to allow myself to slack because each day is different. Each day presents its own challenges. I’m going to know that I don’t have to beat myself up for skipping a day.
This year, my resolution is simple. I am going to FIND JOY. I am going to reflect at the end of the day and remember something that made me grin, smile or laugh. And to make sure I focus on this joy, I’m going to create a Joy Jar.
A Joy Jar is nothing more than a mason jar (or cleaned spaghetti sauce jar, etc.) that can be decorated or left plain. It can have a top or not. It can be jeweled or painted or glitter glued. You see, a Joy Jar is simply a place to put your joy. When I sit and reflect on the day, I will also write down what caused me joy. I will fold that paper and stick it into my jar.
I have been told to read my joys at the end of December - to remember what a joyful year I had. But I say, why wait?! Maybe next week I have a hard time finding joy. I can revisit my jar and find joy there. This practice makes me aware to LOOK for joy in the most menial of tasks. And it allows me to be kind to myself if I can’t stick to it every single day. Some days need more awareness than others.
You see, recently I have been faced with a challenge physically that has had me asking, why me? I have had to sacrifice my hobbies, my goals, my freedom. I have had to suspend friendships and depend on those nearest me to do even the simplest of chores. In the midst of all this, my family has kept me laughing. They have reminded me to smile and be grateful for the things I CAN do, instead of focusing on what I CANNOT. This has caused me to rely on the joyous moments. Each day, I find that I have made it to the end, worried less about tomorrow, and focused more on what got me through today.
I realized that the only way for me to be able to get through this trial and see the good, was to separate God from the pain and depression. I have to hold tight to the truth that, even when my life isn’t great, God still is...that no pain is without purpose because God is working all things for good (Romans 8:28), even when we can't see it.
Our local radio station, KSBJ, which is a Christ-centered, non-profit, listener-supported radio ministry, made it their mission during these past holidays to encourage people to recite a JOY pledge, a pledge to "Choose Joy".
I need joy.
And when I keep my eyes on Jesus, I have joy.
When I lose it, I will choose it. I choose joy!
No matter what challenge you face, there is always joy. I encourage you to add a Joy Jar to your growing list of resolutions, and congratulate you now for succeeding in at least ONE thing this New Year!