“Joy to the world, the Lord has come…” its the song I sang on Christmas Eve, with truly very little joy at all. I wanted joy. I used to have it as a child, and a few times in-between there now and then. I knew what it was like, how it felt, and what it provided. But there I was, signing “joy to the world” with no joy. Throughout the day, I was wondering where my joy was lost, how could I get it back, and that maybe joy was for other people, but not myself. Then it dawned on me that joy wasn’t something you just have to have during the holiday season. God gives us ways to have and experience joy 365 days a year.
That’s when things started happening. Nobody walked on water. No one spoke to me through a burning bush. But small, almost insignificant little things started to happen. I ran across a quote that said “If you do it for joy, you can do it for life” (it was one of those things I just scrolled on by so I’m not sure who to give credit to for it). That struck me. First of all- that word JOY just kept on sneaking back to me, and I was intrigued. What do I do for joy? If I do it for real, actual joy….. could I do it my entire life? Over the next few days I pondered that. Wondering what in the world I do in my life that’s for joy.
Joy: /n/ a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. Seems simple enough. The first time I felt joy was when I read “The Foot Book” by myself for the first time. Since then I’ve graduated high school and college, gotten a cat, got married, got a dog, bought a house- those things are etched in my mind just like reading that first book. I do a lot of things for the little pleasures and small happinesses. I like to craft, watch kids learn, read, sing at church, write, decorate my house, play with my dog… I mean, basic stuff really.
Let me backtrack a little. Over the summer my Mom brought me few boxes of my old stuff which included probably 8 half-way filled in journals, diaries, personal narratives, whatever you want to call it. What’s scary is that there’s probably way more where that came from (no joke there are probably a good 20 firsthand accounts of my life from age 8-high school somewhere out there). So instead of cleaning the garage out (sorry hubby), I started reading them. Crushes, a friend’s horrific accident, family, friends, the future, I wrote it all down. From age 8, writing seemed to have brought me joy, feelings of pleasure, contentedness, and happiness despite it all.
Since college I have felt that I could write, only because one professor told me a paper that I wrote was hilarious and she loved reading it. That, in and of itself, felt empowering. So from there I started sharing “Tales from Teaching”, my tiny tidbits of joy throughout my days in the classroom. I LOVE writing those. I love bringing YOU joy through those silly little posts. That’s when comments started coming “You should write a book!”
Nope. I can’t write a book. I don’t have any ideas. I really don’t know how. Truly, as of 1/1/18, I have ZERO ideas (ok I have a few ideas, but none of them are GREAT ideas). I couldn’t and definitely shouldn’t write a book. I also teach language, but that doesn’t actually mean I know exactly where every semi colon is supposed to go. I mean, I have several phone “notepad” entries that I wrote at 2am (because that’s when writers have their best thoughts), but they have never seen the light of day. In the classroom, I am constantly reading. I read fiction, non-fiction, fables, folktales, you name it. Every time I read, I always wish I was the one who wrote it. I wish I was the one that gets to visit schools, read to kids, and bring them joy through a book.
“If you do it for joy, you can do it for life.”
So 2018, my year of joy, I bring to you a hypothetical, hopefully eventually very real, not-a-single-page-written, book written by me.