For a child who knows she is loved, Christmas Eve is all joyful anticipation. She knows--she just knows--that the hours to come will be filled with joy. She is sure of it. She has faith. Childlike faith.
A child loved by her parents has faith in joy.
She expects it; looks for it. Sure that she will find it.
We are children who know we are loved. We can look for joy and expect to find it.
We are children of a loving Father.
A child loved by God has faith in joy.
I am a child loved by God.
Joy is mine.
And so, we begin the year resolved to look forward with childlike faith to the joy that is the gift of our God. to grow in joy, I have to live joy. It's a circle of blessing.
Small Steps begins with joy because it begins on January first, still in the Christmas season. Still in the glow of the candlelit love. Still with our arms wrapped around the newborn Babe.
I can do this. The book is simple. It's focused. I only need to read a page a day. Pray the prayer. Do the small action item. Grow in virtue. Bless my family. Here we go!
Admittedly, the year has a rough beginning, right from the start. Bright and early on the second day of the new year, Patrick leaves to go back to Florida. I really am not sure when I'll see him again. I tell him goodbye and walk to church. He and Mike leave for the airport. They pass me on the way. He turns to sign "I Love You" as they drive by.
There are all kinds of work to do at home. Mountains of laundry. The fallout of "stuff" from Christmas: decorations, refrigerator full of leftovers (some well past their festiveness). Cranky, tired children who can't at all remember they ever had a rhythm to their days.
And then, there is all the thyroid baggage. "Sluggish" doesn't even begin to describe it. It just seems like I shouldn't have to work so hard to live a life of joy.
The eleventh is a bad day. An angry words, hurt feelings, way beyond tired kind of bad day. So, the twelfth begins with a "bad day hangover."
I start with the act. Just tell me: what's the one more thing I have to do today?
A mother's gentleness springs from the joy of knowing that God is kind and merciful. Just for today, do not speak a word of harshness or frustration; enjoy your family instead. If you blow it it, humble yourself and apologize right away.
Seriously? Who thinks this stuff up?
Not a word of frustration?
I commit the day's prayer to memory:
God grant me the grace and strength to gentle and joyful in all I say and do today.
Gentle and joyful in all...
I resolve to fake it.
I tape the quote to the counter above the sink:
They are led and bound more by gentleness than by force or harsh words.
St. Catherine of Siena was writing about children, but I'm sure the same principle holds true for husbands and people on the other end of the phone.
It's a long day, no doubt about it, but I do persevere. And the next day is a little easier. The smile springs just a bit more readily. I remind myself that the book is a perpetual calendar. We'll revisit this again next year. I don't have to perfect it on the first go-round. Or the second. God is kind and merciful. He knows these steps are small. He's patient. His grace is sufficient.
Did you take small steps towards joy this week? Would you share them with us, let us find you and be encouraged? I'd be so grateful and so honored to step with you.
When you write about the small steps of your journey, please grab a button for your own blog. Together, we can do this, step by small step:-). I'm grateful for your warm companionship.