Joyfully Jackie. That’s the name I gave my space on Instagram in 2019. Can I be honest with you as I’m learning to be more fully honest with myself? This year hasn’t felt all that joyful. I’ve almost felt like a fake this year with my “laugh out loud” photo as if I’m laughing my way joyfully through life. This year has been hard as a new normal has settled upon our family. In fact, this decade has been marred with a lot of hard. I saw a “decade challenge” photo with all the years listed starting with 2010 and ending with 2019 and a space to write the highlight from that year. Of course, I screen shot it and began to think about the highlights… I only got half way… until the first miscarriage, then the second, then the broken marriage, then the phone calls to churches and pastors detailing the situation, then the breakdown, then the resignation, then the long goodbyes and the international move, then the depression, anxiety, post-partum depression and post-partum anxiety, then the slow breaking of all I was, lost friends, deaths, lost loved ones, friends who lost loved ones. Cycle after cycle of two steps forward and three steps back. This last decade hurt so. very. much.
There was also a lot of beautiful in this last decade too. I lived my first dream job. I completed a decade of living on a tropical island working with a company committed to doing good and pointing others to Jesus. I raised babies to be tender-hearted girls who love Jesus and have compassionate and kind souls. We learned a new language. We learned from others who didn’t look like us or talk like us, but turns out we had more in common that what we originally thought. We made best friends and learned what it meant to live communally with radical grace abounding. We found beauty all around us. Sometimes I can still hear the sounds of tropical birds and wind chimes gently swaying in the breeze of the warm air that would waft through our open window slats. Sound magical? It was. We moved close to my family and my kids get to spend copious amounts of time with their grandparents and we began our homeschooling journey and I began a job with a company I adore. I had a baby and she is simply the best (and most exhausting) human ever. My big girls’ made public confessions of their faith through baptism.
As I reflect back on this decade with all of its pain, I find it so hard to let it go. Maybe my grip is so tight on this last decade has made me unable to fully live and love in the days before me. With my eyes gripped on the past, my heart is turning to salt.
I don’t want to run from 2019 or this last decade. I’m not trying to forget it happened or run so hard into 2020 “naming and claiming” it will be my best year yet, because the truth is, I could wake up January 1 to some heavier shit than this last decade ever brought. Likely friends and family members will be hit with heavy shit too. Instead, I’m going to try to pursue Jesus more. Listen, the hard is coming, but I am committing to finding the joy amidst it. No more fake. No more pretend light-hearted laughing like the hard ain’t happening. Joy isn’t circumstantial. I realized that these last couple of years. My heart and head were not aligned on the definition of joy. So here’s to looking back over the last 10 years and embracing all that it held and all the Lord could teach us and trusting that he is making something beautiful in it’s time that we can’t fully see yet. Here’s to knowing that we are exactly where he knew we would be. Here’s to more transparency, honestly, fullness and embracing right where he has us. My word for 2020 is “health.” I know, probably super popular, probably everyone you know has the same word (and for an enneagram 3, this bugs me), but I’m committed to living a healthier mind, a healthier body, and a healthier soul and it all begins with the pursuit of Jesus. He is the only way to find the true joy in the pain, friends. My prayer for us all is that we abound in the grace and joy of Jesus this year, no matter what comes our way.