As I rang in 2015, I felt tired. This past year was a doozy. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t starting 2015 feeling 22! Instead of leaping into the new year, I was dragging my 2014 self into 2015 slowly and with a nasty cold. I accomplished a lot last year. I am sure we can all give our list of the things that happened and all that we did (or didn’t) do. I always make that list. Except this year. This year I’m worn out, which doesn’t allow for a whole lot of lists for what I might get done in 2015. So instead, I am focusing on a lesson my Dad gave a few weeks ago.
My Dad teaches Sunday School every other week. He is a very young 82-year-old and I find it comforting to sit with him in worship service each week and listen to him teach a class of 100 people about God. He is more of a stand up comedian than teacher, although a very good teacher, but I love it. He is hilarious! But the best part is that I get to relive many of the bedtime stories I heard every night when I was a child.
Every night before my sister and I went to bed, my Dad would come in to tuck us in for the night. Every single night (in my recollection it was every single night). He would sit on my bed or my sister’s bed and tell us a story of when he was young. “Please Daddy, tell us a story of when you were a little boy!!!” we would plead. Then we would say our prayers and he would kiss us goodnight. Those are great memories. When my children were small, I replaced the story with a song and I think they enjoyed it just as much as a story.
But I digress. I still get to hear those stories through my Dad’s lessons to his class. Recently, he shared something that I will never forget: The Four Ways to Living a Joy-Filled Life. Here is how those go:
1. Love your God with all your heart, soul and strength.
This seems fairly simple, right? Not always. Most of my early married life, I thought love was words. But the truth is that love is an action. It is what you do because you love someone, not what you say because you love someone. And I think this is true about loving God with all your heart, soul and strength. This means putting God’s kind of love into action, behaving in a way that shows others who God is, a representation of what love looks like in every day life. This is not always easy, as we all know. But I want to show others love in action this year, whether it’s in the form of a “thank you” on an airplane or going out of my way without complaint or expecting something in return.
2. Have someone to love and have someone who loves you back.
I used to think that I had to have a boyfriend or a husband to make this true. This means that you love someone and have someone who also loves you…someone you look forward to spending time with who will bring joy into your day. The older I get, I realize how important this is, how joyful and rich my life is because I have so many people that I love and love me back. All I have to do is take a quick look around the table during the holidays, my neighborhood, my life and there they are! Who are your people when you look around?
3. Do something that is exciting and fulfilling each day.
There is a new skydiving place that opened across from my office a few weeks ago. This might be something exciting and fulfilling to you. However, it is not that kind of excitement for me. I do believe creating a life for yourself that is fulfilling is important. This life here is short and no day should pass without doing something each day that you love and that fulfills you. We all know people who have amazing gifts that go completely unfulfilled. Oh, how that frustrates me to see. My work, growing and building, along with my family life fulfills me. What are the things that bring you joy each and every day?
4. Always have something to look forward to.
I have thought more and more about this the older I get. I have read that senior citizens are at a very high risk of depression because they feel there is nothing left to look forward to. I believe there is always something to get excited about. And I also believe that sometimes you have to create those things for yourself. What is the thing coming in the next month that you are most excited about? Share it with us in the comments section below. If you can’t answer, then maybe it’s time to create that exciting thing, right?
As we begin a new year, whether you are leaping with both hands and feet into it or dragging a bit like me, let’s see how we can lead our best year yet by focusing on joy each and every day.