Bouncing into the New Year with JOY!

Bouncing into the New Year with JOY!

I got up yesterday with over the top joy! WOW! What a fun way to start the new year! The bounce in my step is back. JOY abounds this new year! I asked myself, where did this all come from? The answer, God and GOD ALONE! You see, this last year I discovered so many God surprises! God led me to understand that the joy is ONLY in God’s love. This is beyond ALL of our outer circumstances, we may try to micromanage those our whole lives and miss the true source of joy. It’s not outer (although it can be and surprise us at any given moment), it’s in the inner recesses of our hearts and souls. The deep secrets of our hearts that cannot be solved by human intervention.

2017 was a hard year but the best year ever? Why? Because I learned to live on my knees crying out, Father, help me! God showed me I was focusing on the wrong things. I often feel “fatherless” when my life is falling apart. This had become so normal for me. But it’s NOT TRUE, I AM NOT fatherless. I have the BEST FATHER in this world! He longs to give me good things. I merely needed to learn to receive His love. He never ever let me down. He ALWAYS shows up in love. God DOES use broken things. St. Therese of Lisieux writes, “Because I was little and weak, He lowered Himself to me and instructed me secretly in the things of His love.”

I spent New Year’s Eve doing a very unusual thing for the New Year. God told me not to leave 2017 with any bitterness in my heart for those that had wronged me. If not, this pain was a set up to having deep hooks in my heart. God instructed me not to allow any chain of unforgiveness to be a chain around my heart. If I did I would be a prisoner to it. I HAD TO LET it all go. “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Col. 3:13) Honestly, it is not my favorite thing to do. I know it is a choice, an act of my will. It is a process. I allowed God to bring up the hurt from the past, and yes, felt the pain. You see if we don’t feel the pain from our core and allow God to enter into that dark place the forgiveness won’t be complete. We can’t fake forgiveness. As I forgave the Holy Spirit allowed me to express, “IT WAS WRONG! IT DID MATTER and it hurt me to the core, BUT I will not be captive to it any longer.” This choice of forgiveness doesn’t absolve them of the wrongs they did against me, it helps me to get through and not be captive to it.

So, as I enter the new year I AM FREE! Justice is served and mercy wins! It’s going to be a great story because it’s all about the love of my life, My Abba Father. Excited to put behind my shattered heart and enter into 2018 with BOUNCING JOY!

– Julie Woodley, MA