My best friend loves to give quirky and/or homemade gifts for Christmas, and this year was no exception. In addition to a hilarious photo book of our escapades the last couple years, she gave me a framed typography Scripture verse that she colored during one of our many nights watching movies together on the basement couch.
She chose one of my favorite verses, and one that seems even more meaningful as I look into the black hole of the unknown that is 2017.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come.” (Prov. 31:25)
Some versions say “she laughs without fear of the future.” What would it be like to be that kind of woman? The kind of bold, brave, God-trusting woman who has such an unshakable faith that she laughs when she thinks of the days ahead, no matter how terrifying that unknown future might be.
I’ve been thinking a lot about joy and courage these past few months as change and transitions continue to rock my ordered little world. Even though many of the changes are good and exciting (like getting engaged and starting my own editing business!), change in any form can be hard and scary.
It’s a hard day when you finally accept that you’ve become that fearful, anxious, worrying person you swore you’d never be. When I think of all the unknowns and obstacles facing me in this new year, of all the struggles and challenges of the past year, laughing is the last thing on my mind.
Fearful and cowering is not me.
I’m the child who climbed to the top of the swaying cottonwood tree in my grandma’s back yard. I’m the teen who went to the premier Christian writing conference at the age of 19 and chatted over dinner with Frank Peretti. I’m the woman who quit her successful job at a newspaper to move overseas (where I didn’t know a soul) and join a missions organization. I’m that person who has traveled to over 30 countries (including Siberia and the wilds of Africa), interviewed monks and prostitutes, and rode every type of transportation known to man.
And I’m afraid. I’m more than afraid. I’m terrified of the days to come.
Excited, yes, of course. Over the moon to get married in just over three months. Thrilled to get to make a living doing what I love. Thankful for so many incredible blessings. But still terrified. And I know I shouldn’t be. As Corrie Ten Boom famously said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.” And if the joy of the Lord is our strength, it is also our courage to face an unknown future with all its joys and heartache.
It’s a strange correlation, isn’t it? Worry actually robs me of the joy I need to face the frightening future. In my logical brain, joy comes from the circumstances I’m worrying about being resolved. But what if the opposite were true?
What if a change in circumstances isn’t what erases worry and brings joy and courage to face the future? What if choosing joy is what gives the strength and courage to erase worry and change our circumstances?
What if laughter is the key that unlocks the strength the Lord has placed within us? That hidden confidence and strength that comes with conviction that He is with me and goes before me, that He loves me and has promised to provide for me and mine.
Dignity is defined as the quality of being worthy of respect and honor. What if I were characterized by honor, respect, and strength instead of fear, anxiety, and depression?
What if laughing at the days to come is the key to living with strength and dignity?
So, here is my most important New Year’s resolution. I choose to laugh in the face of the days to come. I choose to choose joy and let Him be my strength. I choose trust instead of worry, courage instead of fear, boldness instead of the self-pitying voice that tells me it’s no use trying, because I’ll never be good enough.
I resolve to face 2017 with the strength and courage that comes from joy, and laugh at the days to come.