My Word of the Year

Everyone is doing it this year: picking a word of the year.





All of these are admirable and wise words to focus on as we begin a new year. The idea of focusing on one word helps to alleviate the overwhelming feeling of too many New Year's resolutions. It requires self-awareness and reflection to choose just one thing to be mindful of in the upcoming year.

And my word is...


This is not wise or serious, obviously. It is not super insightful or deep, but I promise you that it is the one thing in my life that I need to focus on. I need to remember to have fun. Be fun. Enjoy life. Enjoy people and situations. Not be so serious all the time. Because, friends, I am very good at being serious. I can even do fun things seriously. You wouldn't even be able to tell. Seriously.

My family has been through a whirlwind of a year. People say that all the time, but I really mean it. This time last year, my family was in its comfortable groove: my husband and I both had steady, comfortable yet busy teaching jobs, one child was in second grade and one in preschool. Church was good, life was good. Things were not easy but they were manageable. Yet, there was a feeling that maybe we should move back home. Just a nudge at first, then a feeling of starting the process and seeing what God would do. In May, my husband landed a teaching job back home, and we decided to move. We moved in with my parents in August, and after selling our old home in October, moved into an apartment in November. And things are definitely not as comfortable or well-worn as they were a year ago when nothing was new.

Stressful situations like that bring out the serious in me. Everything must be handled quickly and efficiently. There is no time to rest, no time to goof off. There are so many details and so many people to keep happy and so many schedules to keep together, that I forget to keep perspective, not just of the situation, but of my life.

The Lord is using me in my life right now. Wherever I am. He is near to me and has not left me. He loves and cares for me. His grace is sufficient for me. He is a good, good father. Every one of my days is for my good and His glory. Nothing in this world can separate me from Him. I know all of these things to be true.

So why is it that a simple command, to have joy, is so incredibly difficult for me to obey? Is it difficult for you to fight for joy, dear reader, in your life? Do you lose perspective as I do?
I do not have a magical answer to this overwhelming seriousness that adult life has dealt me. It has manifested itself in different ways over the years: discontent, depression, anxiety, boredom. This is why I thought that if I were going to pick a word to be aware of this year, fun might be a wise choice for me. How often do I forget to have fun in my day? At work? With coworkers? With my kids? With my husband whom I love desperately? How often do I let him know I love him desperately?

This cannot become a guilt trip. Guilt would become something else I add to adult life's negative results. I cannot sink into a pit of lamenting how my serious has ruined the lives of my children or me. Here, though, are some things I can do.

1. I can play music and sing along.

2. I can bake something that everyone loves.

3. I can plan a family movie night with a movie that I actually like (we just watched Cool Runnings as a family, and my kids have watched it three more times since then.)

4. I can put down my phone.

5. I can start a puzzle, knowing that my family will come around and help out with it.

6. I can read a book and talk about it.

7. I can send my husband a funny GIF while we are both at school.

The most important thing, though, to have fun and joy in my life: you guessed it. Reading the Bible and praying. This is not an indictment that we are not reading the Bible enough. Friends, I believe that you are probably doing the best that you can in your season. If you are not, then find a reading plan and fix that. But. I can have the most joy when I preach the gospel to myself. When I remember what I have been saved from. When I remember that the people around me are also sinners in need of a savior.

When I remember that, at my worst and most sinful, Christ loved me still. He died for me still. The price has been paid once and for all. What in the world, my dear friends, do we have to be somber about?

One of my favorite movies of all time is My Big Fat Greek Wedding. In that movie, there is a scene where the mother is telling the main character about the difficulties in her life. She then tells the main character, "I gave you life so that you could live it." How much more has our heavenly Father given us eternal life so that we could live it? Should we be serious at times? Absolutely. Should we fight for righteousness and justice, killing sin and seeking the lost? Of course. But should we have fun in this life that has been bought for us? Not only should we have fun, but we miss out on the very essence of redeemed life when we neglect to have fun.

Have joy, dear friends. It is finished.


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