It is a three-letter word, somewhat of a buzz word in some circles. I inevitably come to despise buzz words, but this one is going to stick. Not just because it’s indelibly marked on my wrist and will cost a lot of money to have it removed, but because I choose joy. I choose to love my tattoo because it holds deep meaning for me. I choose a truth that is life-giving and spirit-filling.
This is more than a New Year’s resolution. This is a Life Resolution. I look at people 20 or 30 years my senior who are jaded beyond recognition and I think to myself, Lord, please don’t let me get that way. Their joy is missing. It has undoubtedly been stolen, attacked, left tattered and worn by various events and experiences throughout their lives. I’m not naïve enough to think that bad things don’t happen, or that bad things happen but it’s easy jumping back to normal every-day life. But I’m also in a place where I refuse to give my spirit up for others to steal or attack. Thus the tattoo. I want an efficient reminder to always choose joy.
When I showed my boss my wrist, after laughing and asking, “What’s your mother going to say about that?”, she said, “You know what, though? That’s great. Because that’s what I keep trying to tell people. My spirit is not up for grabs.” Bells and whistles went off in my head for that truth she just spoke. She is right. My spirit is not up for grabs. You can tell me you don’t like the way I do my job. You can tell me my tattoo was a stupid, short-sighted idea. You can laugh at me for the music I listen to, the ideals I hold, or the stuttering I do when I am learning a new dance. But you cannot take away my joy. That’s not your job. Thank you for the offer, I know you’re doing it out of the kindness of your joy-stealing heart, but I’ve got this.
In the face of uncertainty, in the face of fear and loneliness, in the face of rejection and bitterness – I choose JOY.
I wish for you a joy so solid that no flood of meanness, no joy-stealing cranky-pants can take it away from you.
Joy may you have, and gentle heart’s content.
(from “Prothalamion” by Edmund Spenser)