Aren't you glad January is over? Somehow, January feels the longest month of the year. I am assuming that by now, you and I together have tossed out ’all our new year resolutions’ we wrote after the first week of the new year and feel totally deflated to continue.
Why dreaming feels easy at the beginning of the new year, but fulfilling and relenting for our dreams and desires wears off only in a few weeks?
What is interesting and why not a bit strange, (at least for me) is that if you had to see my last ten years resolutions list is almost unchanged. A life focused on Faith, Family, Friendships, Health (stay away from sugary Food), Writing Books, Adventure, Giving to the needy and Smiling more (the last one might surprise you but I do very little of it and especially inside the house ) are the sum of my heart’s desires.
When I look back at all those areas of my life where I want to grow and become better the progress feels a lot like a marathon where I am the only turtle in the race.
Everyone else in the race seems to be a rabbit, or a horse, many gazelles and of course a few cheetahs who swiftly, gracefully and effortlessly overtake me. What's even more amazing is that there is no sweating, no fussing on their faces, all I see is peaceful runners gliding towards their destination.
Because of that feeling, I give up every January.
I give up the trying game and choose again and again to focus on my race and on my line. I get myself off that rat race just for a little bit so that I can think more about my strength and my life. It's hard, but part of my joy for reaching the end of January is this sense of going back to find my pace.
I am not saying that we are meant to run alone in this race called life. I am not even saying that we are meant to stop and pitch our tents in the middle of that road. I do believe that we are meant to run together and that community makes the race bearable, enjoyable and worthy.
But, why do we run?
We run to win says Paul to the believers in Corinth (1 Corinthians 9:24) but to win what?
I think this winning concept might be all muddled up these days. There is a difference between what God calls a win and what the world calls winning. Jesus Christ dying on the cross was seen by the world as a weakness, waste of life and scandalous thing to do, but in God’s eyes was obedience, bravery, victory and worthy to our freedom.
A friend of mine who gave up her job in the city in order to be more involved in her marriage and family life was seen by her colleagues as ’giving up too much of what makes her happy and important.’ The truth is that she is happy now, but her happiness rests within the path she had chosen to walk and run at this season of her life.
So, winning is more about becoming the people God made us to be and not the people the pressures of lives push us to become.
We are supposed to run with joy (see Hebrews 12:1-3), but are we?
Joy is a great factor to see if we are running our race in our pace and if we are in the correct line.
Joy is not this fuzzy, warm, elated kind of feeling that many people believe it is, no, that's happiness. Joy is that peaceful assurance that settles you down and accompanies you while you are in the right place, staying in your path and moving on your pace.
I have just finished a book by Marie Kondō (the queen of decluttering and cleaning) and to my surprise, she uses ’joy’ as the main reason for deciding whether to keep or discard stuff we surround our lives and homes with. Her advice to all people who she helps to tidy up their homes is to check if every item they own sparks joy for them.
If it does, she advises to keep it, and if not then it's better to get rid of.
I believe our lives will be more balanced, enjoyable and purposeful if we run everything we do through the ’joy test.’
For example: Is what we are doing right now, the way we are working, living, spending our days and investing our time in something that sparks joy?
If the answer is ’yes’ then we continue, if the answer is ’no’ we have some choices to make.
Now I understand that choices are hard and can be time-consuming, but personally, I would hate to live with the regret that staying the same leaves us with.
Let's do it together. Apparently, alike with decluttering, the process gets worse before it gets better, this means we need each other's support. Whether is your job that needs to go through the ’joy test’ or the stuff that fills your garage and loft, perhaps some friendships that we keep because we can't bear saying no. Whatever it is let us not be afraid to confront, examine and decide its place in our lives.
If our marriages and families use to spark joy for us but somehow have lost their spark, lets us do the hard work of removing any debris and dust they have accumulated.
Some treasures we hold and have been given the opportunity to do life with need our full attention if the dust of time and life have dulled their shine.
I have started my ’spark joy’ process with my draws and my kitchen utensils today. It's amazing what hides where the eye can't see often!
Let's do this! Love and prayers your sojourning friend