At the first church service of the year, our pastor passed out little slips of paper. He asked us to write down one word for the new year. One word that represented what we were asking God for. One word that represented what we wanted to have or learn or do or become in the new year.
At that point in time, we were in a very, very early stage of trying to put our broken marriage, and our broken selves, back together.
Jeff had only been back home a matter of weeks, and there were still more hard days than good days at that point.
As I sat and thought about what my word would be, there were just so many. The last year had brought me such terrible, awful words.
It was so hard to narrow down what I wanted this new year to be. I wanted it to be the exact opposite of all those awful words that 2015 had brought me.
I wanted happiness.
A mended heart.
But the one thing, the one thing I wanted most, was,
I just wanted to feel joy.
I craved it with every ounce of my being. The sadness was just so overwhelmingly heavy and I just desperately wanted to feel the lightness that joy brings.
So that was the word I wrote down that day.
Now we have reached the middle of 2016, and our pastor revisited that sermon today.
On the curtain behind the pulpit at our church, hang large letters that spell the word “[be]ing.”
It represents Acts 17:28,
“In Him we live and move and have our being.”
It is a reminder that we aren’t just of Him, we are in Him and He in us and so we aren’t here to just talk about His mercy, His grace, and His love, but we are here to BE those things.
So today, instead of writing our words on a slip of paper, they took those big letters off the wall. And we all wrote our words on those letters.
It could be the same word you wrote at the beginning of the year, or you could choose to write a new one.
I kept hearing two words go through my mind.
The first word was:
From the first days after I discovered the affair, when I was so entrenched in the pain of all that had happened, God kept telling me He had goodness for me. That no matter what happened, there was goodness waiting for me on the other side of this.
Throughout this past year, I’ve held tight to that. And not just as a promise for the future, but as something to get me through each and every day.
When things got bad, I’d remind myself to look for the goodness. And that’s what would pull me through. Sometimes it was little things, sometimes it was big things, but there was always goodness there, even in the darkest days. You just have to look for it. You have to acknowledge it, you have to be thankful for it, and then keep your focus on it.
It’s not always easy, and there were some days that have been harder than others for me to carry out this principle for sure. But if you focus on everything that’s going wrong, and everything that’s bad, you just end up with more bad. On the flip side of that, if you look for the goodness, the goodness grows.
Even when our lives aren’t going the way we wanted or expected, God is still so very good. He has so much goodness for us. We just have to choose to see it.
I see it everywhere, and I’m so very thankful. His goodness overwhelms me. And once we see His goodness, we can then turn around and BE His goodness for someone else. And so it grows, and it grows. His goodness knows no end.
Which brings me to my second word:
Hope is a wonderful thing. It gets us through many heartaches and trials.
But I have found that I don’t just have to hope that everything will work out for my good.
I can fully expect it.
Because of God’s goodness.
Because He promises in His word that He will work ALL things for my good.
That He will take even what was meant for my harm and turn it around.
And that not only will He turn it around, but He won’t waste one single bit of it. He will bring His goodness and light into my situation and use it for His glory. He will put my broken pieces back together and then use that brokenness to bring hope and goodness to others.
I don’t have to just hope for the best.
I can come before God with expectation of the best.
Because that is what He promises. I can trust that He always has my best interest in mind and that He always has more goodness in store for me.
“How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.”
So then, what about my original word, Joy?
I can sum it up this way:
Goodness+Expectation multiplied by Gratitude=
That’s where we can find our joy. When we look for the goodness. When we trust in God’s promises and fully expect that He is who He says He is and will do what He has promised, and when our hearts overflow with gratitude for His goodness and grace and His infinite love for us.
That’s when He turns all those bad words the last year brought me around.
That’s where I’ll find my happiness.
My mended heart.
That’s where I’ll find my joy.
It’s where you can find yours too.❤️
Amy Thurston Gordy