Dear Family and Friends:
I don’t know if you’re like me, but I worry. Especially about my children. I think that’s a common denominator for all of us, but especially those of us who call themselves a “mom” or “dad”. And I’ve been told worrying about our children doesn’t always go away, no matter how much older our children become.
Worry if we’re doing enough for them. Worry if we’re making the right decisions as parents. Worry if they have the right influences in their life. Worry if we are doing enough to ensure they have the best chance at success. At least those are some common worries that I have as a parent.
Another concept I struggle with is just the notion of how fast time goes. I have a 7 year old boy and a 6 year old girl and I know one of these days when my children are older and out of the house how I will miss these times we’re in right now…how they still believe in Santa Claus, how they’re losing baby teeth, wrestling on the trampoline, and playing ball in the front yard. How fast time goes by.
At the start of 2020, my wife and I made a commitment to be more intentional with our family and to ensure that we acknowledge and recognize the moments this year that brought us joy. We emphasize to our children the importance of having the right attitude and perspective and how those things are choices. That we should not let our circumstances dictate our level of joy. Because joy can be had in the good seasons of life and in the difficult seasons of life.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Chuck Swindoll who once said, “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” I heard that quote a while ago and it’s always served as a great reminder to me that I am in control of my attitude, my perspective, and my ability to have joy. Happiness comes and goes but true joy can survive just about any circumstance we are in. It’s all about our perspective.
Last December, I saw where one of my childhood friends had a tradition in her family called a “Joy Jar.” The idea behind the joy jar is to write down the little things throughout the day or week that you find joy in. Then on New Year’s Eve, the family will get together and read the moments that they experienced together that brought joy throughout the year. I thought the idea was great, so our family too began our own tradition of the “Campbell Joy Jar” in January 2020. Little did we know at the time what would be in store for us in 2020.
Obviously, this was a very good year to start this tradition. Because throughout every trial, or long day, or during the times it felt like this year would never end, this jar sitting in our kitchen quickly filling up to the brim with pieces of paper – little memories – was a reminder to me of this very notion…the notion of having the right perspective.
And now that we are wrapping up this last month of a very long year, I look forward to being able to empty out all the small pieces of paper and be able to remind ourselves as a family about the little moments throughout 2020 that brought us so much joy, despite the very difficult year that it was.
Yes, my son and daughter did not get to have friends over for their birthday parties this year; they didn’t get to see their 93 year old great-grandmother at Thanksgiving or Christmas; we didn’t get to go to the indoor trampoline park this year; but…we are still reminded of all of the things that we did get to do and the joy that we did have (and currently have), simply because our perspective was in the right place.
So, my challenge to each of you this month is to evaluate what perspective adjustment might you need to make to experience true joy and live joyful lives. For me, as a Christian, I find my joy in His truths and resting in the comfort that I have in Him as the author and director of my life. But that doesn’t mean that my attitude always reflects that, unfortunately. I often need recurring attitude adjustments and reminders to do so to ensure my perspective is in line with where it should be. And of course, this time of year is the perfect time to put those reminders in place for the coming new year. My prayer for each of us today is that we remember that joy is available to us each day, but even more importantly, that we remember where or who that joy really comes from.
And lastly, whenever I go through a challenging season, I always try to learn something from it. Because we should be continually evaluating how we can improve and carry with us the takeaways that we learn through those difficult or challenging times. So, I wrote down some lessons that I will be taking away from 2020. And I would encourage you too at some point soon to write down your own takeaways from this year and use them as reminders and lessons for future hard times; because as we all know…as long as there is a tomorrow, we will face future hard times.
So here are some of my takeaways from 2020:
- Be present, during every moment of every day – no matter what life is throwing at you
- Don’t take your freedoms for granted.
- Not always having something to do is not a bad thing.
- Be content with what you have.
- There are some things I cannot control.
- On second thought, there are a lot of things I cannot control.
- Hard times, even those that seem to last a long time, shall too pass.
- Life is not always fair, but remember…no one ever said it would be.
- Be thankful for your health.
- Take care of your health.
- There are a lot of opinions out there. In the end, you must form your own.
- Stay informed, but as much as possible, not worried.
- Plans will change.
- Accept change.
- Pick up a new hobby or revive an old one.
- Do the best you can with what you have.
- Not every problem has a perfect solution.
- Challenging times come with difficult decisions; you won’t please everyone.
- Thank those who make hard decisions…even if you do not agree with them. They see a bigger picture that you may not be able to see.
- There are different ways of doing things.
- Don’t take time with your family for granted.
- We’re all in this together.
- There’s joy to be had in every season of life, even when it’s hard to find.
No matter what 2021 throws your way, may you always remember that you are capable enough and strong enough to be able to face and accomplish hard things.
Until next time,