This second fruit of the Spirit has woven itself into the beginning of my year.
Resolved: To be full of joy. To be a steadfast shimmer of light in this dark world.
This was a hard year for all of us, I think. Nations on the brink of war, rumors of militant groups slaughtering children, an outbreak of disease that showed us maybe the real disease we're all facing is fear as much as anything else, our own nation thrown into turmoil as the death of a young man shows us wounds can stay open & fester for a long time - centuries, even.
Sometimes I wonder if joy has a lot more to do with looking at all the hard and not wavering - keeping our light shining steady, than it has to do with being in a good mood all the time.
At the dawn of this new year I would like to be more of a lighthouse, than a firework.
Because it was also a good year, but the good in our world is becoming a lot more hidden. The things that are good, really good, are covered in layers of cheap distraction & bad news.
We (and by we I do, in fact, mean me) bounce back and forth between Buzzfeed lists that quote our favorite TV shows and viral fear-mongering articles.
And we miss the good.
My daughter was born this year.
My son began speaking, and just a few weeks ago wrapped his chubby arms around my neck, pressed his sticky face to my check and said, "I love you, Momma."
Kyle & I celebrated five years of forging a life together.
A friendship in our lives was healed from deep conflict.
Stories like this are happening. "When I think about a life of greatness, I think about a life of service.":
Joy is a precious commodity, which means as a follower of Christ it is all the more important for me to pursue it. To be filled by it, and share it with others. The purpose of these fruits, after all. is to be a sign. A flag we bear that makes us different.
We're supposed to be different.
As this year begins we have choices ahead of us.
We could be fireworks. Bright flashes consumed by moments of instant gratification, of easy happiness.
Or, we could be lighthouses. The huge stone building that is battered by wind and wave but comes up out of the rock, strong and steady. That shines out a light, warning against danger, helping others find their way out of the darkness and into safe harbor. That offers deep gladness & delight even, in it's warmth & steadfastness.
Lighthouses that offer hope, and therefore joy, in a world that's dark.