It's only day 5 of 2011 and I've heard handfuls of people say "It's already looking like a terrible year." What. A. Bummer.
I cannot possibly look at 2011 and say it's going to bring me bad news and bad luck. Where's the hope in that? No no, I need-HAVE-to look at the next 360 days of this year with anticipation. Anticipation that my life will take some very large turns around the right bend.
I was fortunate and blessed enough to spend the entire holiday week with my family, back in my home town. I drove home Christmas Eve and didn't leave those poor people alone until January 3rd. To understand my excitement about this trip, you have to understand how 'down in the dumps' I was before the trip. I have felt literally out of place for months now. I made a small move to a different house, a different job, a different church, and a different spot on the Colorado map. At the time, I thought these changes were just what I needed. Yet, my joy seemed to slip away from me like the tide slips fom the sand. I have had great times here and I have great friends and co-workers nearby that kept a smile on my face-even if my insides were aching.
While at home, I had an "Iris" moment. Now, you'll need to remember this reference as I'll use it many times from now on. I'm standing in my shower, listening to Audrey Assad (amazing) and realized how much JOY I had back. Joy in my heart, joy in my soul, joy in my body, joy in my face. Joy was exploding in my veins. This, I relate to Iris in the movie 'The Holiday'. She discovers "gumption" after a man does a tapdance on her heart. She kicks him out of her borrowed house and throws her fists in the air and shouts! This is the exact feeling I had. The joy was overflowing!
You must also understand that I had been praying for my joy to come back for months. It was starting to show on my face, and probably around my hips, that joy did not live here anymore. I am not one to say that my surroundings and circumstances determine my happiness. I know that God is my internal joy and can, and will, provide that regardless of where I am. But this was deep rooted. This was my soul. I believe that God has given me a heart and soul so full of the Holy Spirit that He can move me and change me internally. I use my heart and soul to guide me through my world, and this was no different. Could it be that I "stepped out" of His plan for me?
But, can you believe it?! My joy was back! In Scottsbluff, Nebraska! The single place I had been trying to escape for years and months of my life. This could be because I simply have the coolest younger brother in the world, or because my parents guided me and talked to me all week long, giving me encouragement and love. It could also be because I saw my friends who know me and make me smile, or because I met some new friends-and one in particular that opened my eyes and heart in a teeny millisecond. Or, it could be because I felt comfortable; I laughed and sang, I didn't work, and I soaked up every bit of holiday fun I could.
Regardless of what made me feel so joyful, I know, without a doubt, that it was God. He used these people and the experiences and words to speak deep into my soul for the entire week. When I started pulling into my driveway in Colorado, a dark, deep, and depressing cloak fell back over me. And joy tried to escape again. This, my dear friends, is my soul telling me that this is not the place for me.
And so, like I said, I cannot look at this year already expecting it to disappoint me. I have to look ahead and see a new career path, a new home, a new location, my old church-or a new one, more new friends, new relationships, and new joy. I have to remember that I am a dreamer who believes in love and happiness and joy, and that this year will bring all of those and more!
"But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard..."