I have a great friend who every year thinks and prays about a word that she will focus on for the new year. It seems to have brought her great focus on the past years and I have been thinking a lot about doing it myself. For last two weeks I have thought about my last year. We moved to Augusta, Ga in December and I started working in January. I have been thinking about the ups and downs of being am military spouse and how the first year is often a time of excitement, adventure of a new place, and a rush to settle in. Our mission becomes settling the hearts of our children in new schools and friends, supporting our soldier as he finds his own connections at work, and deciding what we will do with ourselves. At home, it involves making it feel as such and finding our own circles. If you work, it is the anxiety of wondering if anyone wants to hire a military spouse, and then investing into your career- once again proving your worth to the local world who knows nothing of your past accomplishments. If you move as frequently as we do, year two is a bit tricky.
Year two is a time where we are settled in, making gains, and are… in between. There is no talk of where we are going, although we know it is inevitable. We have no choice but to continue to invest in the world around us, as if we are going no where. We naturally long to settle and have stability and so we tell ourselves that we are going no where. That’s always an option, right? Other military families get stuck, we could too, right? I don’t know about you, but my heart longs to do that, but my mind seems to anticipate change. So as I have thought about what word God would want me to focus on, He seemed to replay moments of the last year where I have used the word JOY. I have mentioned it in sessions with individuals and families, taught on it in marriage retreats, I even made a canvas to hang in my home during the holidays that shouted “JOY” in big bold sparkly letters. My soapbox on it has been that it means something other than happiness. People come into my office asking to be happy. I think happiness is fleeting. It is like opening presents on Christmas morning and is over in a moment. JOY is the lasting contentedness that follows that I think all of us are wanting. It comes from a place of connection and safety with others and the world around you, a sense of gratefulness for your Maker, and what follows is peace.
As I look into year two for me, I realize I have a lot more to learn about JOY. I desperately need it’s warm blanket to calm anxiety, settle vision, and keep me from over reaching. I have a tendency to do that. I claw at the future to grasp certainty when often times there is nothing there. But my present is, and that is where I need to be.
And so, JOY will be my word. In the midst of busy schedules, Cub Scout meetings, my own career including a teen outpatient program, and investing in my marriage, I will be learning about JOY. Here are a few things that I know bring me JOY:
- Thoughtful prayer with Jesus, not just a passing conversation. There are things I long to pray for that I keep putting aside for that quiet moment that I never find. I am convinced that my lack of focus stems from my inability to make this happen.
- Music- I put my guitar away when my step-father passed away. I believe I am ready to take it out again. I have a piano that was gifted to me, and my husband has begged me to sing around the boys again, so I believe I will. Worship frees my heart and unloads the weight of the world that I experience each day.
- Being content in myself. Actually working on the physical goals I have for myself and enjoying wherever I am in the process.
- Allowing myself to have more moments of happiness. They may be fleeting, but the JOY that comes from it flows into a grateful heart. Whether its playing a game with the family or basketball outside with the kids- it is far better than whatever is on the digital device in front of me. Having fun with my husband as well- we have worked so hard and this definitely doesn’t need to be forgotten.
- Creativity. For me, I have to contain this one. This year, I will be a good steward of what God provided and work on one project that will give me a sense of giving life to something. I am a lifegiver, and I know this is what God has gifted me to do. If I don’t hedge myself in, though, it can tend to get out of hand.
So, in the “in between”, my hope is that I will learn to be content there. “In between” can be a great place to be- not working towards anything, just being a good steward of what I have. Enjoying those I am blessed to be with and smiling more. JOY- in between. What word is on your heart?