Back around New Year’s Day, when people were making resolutions, many of the good ladies of the internet were sharing their plans for self-improvement. They all had long and laudable lists to accomplish, but they wanted to avoid that all-too-common problem with good intentions: losing focus, petering out, or just plain forgetting.
To avoid this pitfall, they planned to distill their finest aspirations into a single, pregnant word. They would post this word in a prominent place where they would see it often, and they would be encouraged and redirected throughout the day.
To this idea, Jen from Conversion Diary responded in a way that I could have done myself:
“Here’s the problem,” I told a friend. Ann Voskamp’s word is YES, Rachel Balducci and Arwen Mosher are both doing JOY…I feel like holy people like that can do this sort of thing, but I’m too much of an overly analytical grouch for it.” I thought that if, say, I were going to try to be more joyful, I would need specific, measurable goals in that department, lest I end up just rolling my eyes at the “JOY!” sign posted on my refrigerator as I shuffle around joylessly.
She’s a better woman than I am. I’m pretty sure that the first time I glanced at “JOY!” on the refrigerator while crawling around with a wad of rags, trying to sop up the rapidly-congealing jello soup that someone forgot to tell me they spilled all over the floor, where they were, incidentally, storing their math books and their collection of unwashable fairy costumes, I wouldn’t be rolling my eyes — I’d be gnashing my teeth, and possibly actually biting someone. Yeah, I got yer JOY right here.
So, no, this plan wasn’t for me. (Jen, however, ultimately decided to go with “Fortitude,” which is a good, versatile word, and realistic.)
But why am I bringing this story up now? Because I recently sorted through a bunch of old papers, and in among the long division worksheets and Cub Scout permission slips, I found a homemade valentine.
It was from my eight-year-old daughter to my seven-year-old son, and in a very few words, it illustrated such love, such consideration, and such a profound understanding of her brother’s character and basic constitution, that I decided to make it my mid-year Word.
I hung it in a prominent place, and every time I pass by it, it gives my heart a lift. Even on the darkest day, I smile, and I remember anew what true love is all about.