Joy Ride: My Word of the Year

Lauren Sparks

(Photo: Unsplash)

The last couple of years have been terrible for everyone.  At least that’s the way it seems.  Covid-19 lockdown snowballed into more struggles, more uncertainty and more pain.  I didn’t realize how universal these feelings were until I heard person after person wishing for 2023 to be a better year.  I hope you don’t fall into this category, but we all know sooner or later, we will have trouble (John 16:33).  Maybe we need a joy ride.

People often associate the term joy ride (sometimes spelled as a single word) with stealing a car.  But it simply means a ride for enjoyment.  And I, for one, need more enjoyment in my life.

Last year was a little better for me than the two years prior, but I still found myself saying the following to my mom and sister:  “I don’t know if I’ll ever feel true joy again.”  I almost couldn’t believe it came out of my mouth.  Full disclosure:  I realized a short time later that I needed a change in my anti-depressant and, as a result of that change, am feeling much better now.  But the reality is that I spent two years in sadness, grief and despair.  Medication or not, God has had to teach me anew to trust Him.  Hear me say that the lack of trust, of course, had nothing to do with His actions or who He is. I allowed my circumstances to skew my view of a God who never changes.

Which Leads Us to Now…

In the midst of that conversation with my loved ones, I knew “joy” needed to be my One Word focus for 2023.  I have put in a lot of work the last few years and I think God wants me to lighten up.  I know the Bible says we, in Christ, have joy no matter the circumstances.  James even said trials and the testing of our faith are counted as joy (James 1:2-3)!  For crying out loud!  But if I’m honest, joy is not exactly what I’ve been feeling.

Now I know feelings and truth don’t always line up, but I want to manifest the truth of supernatural joy in my life.  In plain speak, I’m tired of feeling burdened and sad.  I want to overflow with the joy that comes from knowing Jesus and walking daily with Him.  So I choose joy.  Not just for the moment, but for the year.  I plan on digging into what scripture has to say about it and exploring the things in my life that hold me back from its fullness.

Psalm 16:11 is my verse for the year.

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  ESV

If this resonated with you at all, I hope you will come on this journey (or ride, if you will) with me for 2023.  As I learn, maybe you will, too.  And please share your experiences with joy and the things you know about it in the comments.  I hope we encourage each other to soak up those pleasures forevermore.

Bonus:  I’m sharing the screen saver I made for my phone!

joy ride

And now for this week’s featured post from the link up!

Joanne Viola gave a beautifully simple explanation of the gospel in Receive.  Thank you for linking up, Joanne!

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Lauren Sparks is a wife and mom of 2 daughters – one with special needs – and one bonus son. She lives, worships Jesus, and teaches yoga in Dallas, TX area. She is a contributing author on 3 devotional books, she shares her adventures, victories, and flub-ups from her laptop at

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