Every September, I ask for a word for the upcoming year.
I usually do it in the fall around the Jewish New Year, give or take a few days. I measure time a little fuzzy.
Last year, the word was “Healed.”
Incidentally, last year, I also tore my ACL, broke my leg, had problems with my gallbladder, and got a wart. On my face.
Needless to say, I felt a tiny bit confused.
As of this writing, I’m happy to announce that all those things are healed now, or at least well on their way to healing. So in that way, I guess the word held true.
Needless to say, I felt a tiny bit confused.
But. It was a long way around on a bumpy road.
This year, I considered not asking for a word. Maybe I just don’t want to know.
I held off for a month.
Lord, have mercy. Keep that word to yourself.
Physical pain and sickness and injury–these things mess with your mind. Pain is a head game. You win if you don’t let it get in your head, if you choose to live every moment like the world isn’t falling apart. It’s a kind of personal terrorism. You can’t give in, or the injury wins.
As my physical therapist says, “Suck it up, Buttercup.”
I should know this by now. A body goes through a lot in forty years.
Maybe the most disappointing thing about hurting my leg in the spring was the way I lost my joy. Fast. And it stayed gone. I could reach and grasp and drag it back, but it was a shallow thing. The tiniest upset caused me to lose it again.
I thought I had more joy. I needed to know this about myself.
The joy of the Lord is my strength. The joy of the Lord is my strength. The joy of the Lord is my strength.
The joy of the Lord is my strength.
That’s my verse. My life’s motto. How could I let it go so easily through the greatest challenges?
I’ve listened to hours and hours of instruction on healing this year. I’ve talked to my friends and listened to their advice. I’ve had hours of prayer.
The thing that keeps emerging for me is joy.
I heard Bill Johnson share the many ways that healing comes. Of course, it can come through prayer, but he has seen so many people healed. Some have been healed just by walking in the door during worship. Others spontaneously felt heat or tingling. Others were healed sometime during a service but didn’t even know it until later when they realized they were doing an activity that they hadn’t been able to do for years, lifting a box or moving a table.
One story he shared stood out to me as confirmation of joy. A man was given four months to live. His doctor laid down the files and paperwork and said, “Do you want to know what I would do if I were you?”
The man said, “Yes, of course.”
The doctor said, “If I were you, if they told me I had four months to live? I would go home and rent every funny movie I could find. I would start to laugh, and I would not stop.”
So the man did. The next time they tested him, the disease had gone. No evidence of that disease anywhere. He was cured by laughing, cured by joy.
I would start to laugh, and I would not stop.
Sometimes we are so darn serious. It’s such a drag, and there is no breakthrough because our own heaviness holds us down in one tiny spot.
So many things happened this year. And I struggled to hold on to joy.
Every person I talk to starts to laugh as I tell them the crazy things that have happened. Because, for some reason, one terrible thing is not funny. It’s just terrible.
But a whole bunch of terrible things piled up on top of each other? Hilarious.
I think it’s the absurdity of it. Like, that’s not real, right? You have to be joking.
No. I’m not. But maybe life is.
I finally got up the courage to ask for my word for the year.
The Spirit had been holding his breath, waiting for me to ask. Almost even before I finished the prayer I heard my word.
Great. Sigh. I’m not going to ponder on what that means.
You have to be joking.
I keep thinking about the Proverbs 31 woman. How the scripture says, “She laughs, without fear of the future.”
I’ve always read that passage a certain way. Like, it’s a defiant laugh. Like, “Haha, Future! You can’t catch me!!!”
But lately, I think she’s actually sincerely laughing. Like she sees things that are funny. She’s cracking up, enjoying life. She is overwhelmed sometimes by all that she manages. That lady is no joke, but her life kind of sounds like one. Every person I know that manages that much stuff feels crazy at times. The ones that don’t quit are the ones who know how to laugh at the craziness. How to take it all in stride. How to make the messes and the unresolved areas and the failures, because she surely had all of that, how to make it all a joke.
I’m praying for more laughter. I’m watching videos and playing more. I already feel better. I’ll get to the future, but right now I’m laughing at the past, this year of “Are you kidding me, Lord?”
I think He is.
Laughter. It’s the word for the year.
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. Prov 31:25