30-Day Writing Challenge
Day 9: Post some words of wisdom that speak to you.
I stand today looking back on the road of twenty-nine years lived – twenty-nine full, lovely, blessed years of life. Every birthday for me is an opportunity to pause and take a step back – to express my gratitude for the gift that it is simply to be alive and well. And not only that, but to have so many blessings to make life beautiful.
But this year, I began to think of past birthdays and my ambitious lists of things to do in the next year. Bucket lists, adventures to go on, experiences to be had – all of which I have enjoyed and still get excited about. I enjoy making plans and lists, and I enjoy accomplishing them even more. I will most likely have a running list of things to do until the day I die, which is perfectly fine with me!
The thought came to me, though, that if I only focus on those things, I might be draining life’s cup and consuming the joy that comes through God’s blessings – but what am I doing to truly give that joy back to others?
Because I do feel happy and joyful when doing things on my “lists,” but the truth is that I feel even more happy and joyful when I’m bringing joy to others.
And this, I believe, is how God intended it to be. He intended for our joy to be intertwined with another’s, so that we are truly living lives given away.
Today, I read my favorite picture book with both of my classes – the one I only read on my birthday, called The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. I’ve always loved this book because it’s about the joy that books bring to us, but I discovered new meaning today while reading it aloud with my kids.
My favorite part is when people are coming to Mr. Morris Lessmore to borrow books, and the illustration on that page shows the people lined up, waiting to get books, in black and white, and the people who are leaving with books, in color. It’s a beautiful illustration of the power of books and the joy and color they bring to our lives.
Not only that, though, Morris was sharing his love of books with people and helping to bring them joy. Then after he “moved on” (euphemistically speaking), the book he had written about his life remained behind and continued to bring joy to others.
I realized that’s exactly who I want to be – both with my everyday life and with my writing. I want to bring color to those who might be feeling black-and-white. I want to shine the light of Christ’s hope in dark spaces. I want to sing melodies of comfort to those who are downtrodden.
Not that I haven’t desired to do this in the past, but I know that my heart often gets tangled up with selfish motives, and I end up secretly desiring people to just serve me. I’m praying for my motives to be refined this year so that it’s all about the giving instead of the receiving – from the biggest to the smallest of ways. Even if it’s simply caring more about what someone else is saying than in airing my opinion, I want my heart to love others more and be consciously trying to bring some sort of joy into their lives.
My immediate follow-up thought is “How am I going to do this? I need to make a list of ways. I need to check off boxes.” And plans are good and ways are important, and I know things don’t get accomplished unless we do make a plan. But I also know from past experience my tendency to get caught up in the box-checking and forget the real purpose behind this. And I know my tendency to beat myself up if I’m not “accomplishing” what I said I was going to.
It’s not a race to be finished first or a means to a reward. It’s not about making myself a “better” person or feeling good that I did what I said I was going to.
It’s merely a change I want to make in my outlook toward other people – to start seeing them first instead of myself. I simply want to ask myself at the beginning of the day, “Who can I bring joy to today?” and at the end of the day, I want to ask myself, “Did I bring joy to someone today?”
Not my joy necessarily and not joy that draws attention to myself – but joy that points them back to Christ. Joy that brings hope of an eternity spent with God Himself. Joy that speaks of deeper purpose and meaning to life, not fleeting happiness.
This is the only kind of joy that matters – and if that’s what I can accomplish with my one small life, I will say it was a life well-lived.
28 – you were lovely and adventurous and well-read and peaceful. 29 – I can’t wait to see what’s in store for you, and I pray that it’s a year filled with the discoveries of loving others more and bringing them more joy. But whatever the year may bring, may it ultimately bring all glory to God.
30-Day Writing Challenge