Peace, Not Pressure

My name is old-fashioned.  It seems that no one names a baby girl Joyce anymore. My grandfather named me after the word “rejoice.”  I like that my family was rejoicing when I was born! It feels like I have a responsibility to live a joyful life with a name like this, and sometimes that responsibility has been a weight to carry.  

Growing up I had a hard time connecting with joy.  I was happy, for sure, and I lived in a happy home with loving, supportive parents who believed my sister and I could do anything.  The pressure to strive for perfection was internal, not external.  Once, when I was a second-grader, my mother asked if I brought home a report card with my grades.  I replied that I did, and she asked to see it.  I was dumbfounded.  Why did she want to see it?  They were my grades, not hers!  I had nothing to hide – I had all “E” for “excellent” scores – but I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why she cared about my grades.  My grades were my responsibility, not hers.  As a mother myself now, I laugh about the audacity of my little second-grader self.  

I know now that this kind of internal pressure to be perfect often robbed me of joy, and I’m done with that.  Paul’s counsel to be joyful and grow to maturity leads to peace, not pressure.
“Be joyful.  Grow to maturity.  Encourage each other.  Live in harmony and peace.  Then the God of love and peace will be with you.”  2 Corinthians 13: 11  
Today’s pressures look different, for sure.  Create the perfect table centerpiece that your guests will declare the best they’ve ever seen.  Receive a perfect annual evaluation at work that compliments your brilliance.  Make sure your children look like magazine models each week at church so other mothers will envy you.  Obsess about your appearance and wonder if others notice.  Purchase the perfect gifts for everyone at Christmas, impressing everyone with your creativity.  The pressures to be perfect are everywhere, and we need to let them go.  

Find joy in the cracked ornament that reminds you of a special Christmas past.  Laugh at the sunken casserole that tastes great anyway.  If your house is the only one on the street without Christmas lights, thank the neighbors for sharing their festivity with you!  Can’t find the perfect gift for someone?  Write them a letter about why you love them and what their presence in your life means to you.  Wrap it around a chocolate bar or a pretty bookmark and it will be declared the perfect gift.  

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!  Let’s live in that joy, without all the pressure.  May the God of love and peace be with you.  
Joyce Newmyer
Vice President of Human Resources at Adventist Health
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Jan - December 15th, 2022 at 11:47am

My sister’s name is Joyce. I will share this with her. She was the perfect oldest sibling. It seemed to be in her DNA unlike mine, the “dreamer”, middle child. She strived and accomplished but I feel like at times it weighed on her. She is still my perfect older sister because she still loves me perfectly, even now as I see her mind and communication skills are failing her. Thank you for the reminder that joy is in the love, not the performance.💕

Daniel - December 15th, 2022 at 1:00pm

Thank you Joyce

Denise Chrowl - December 15th, 2022 at 9:59pm

Thanks so much, Joyce. Spot on, as I find is usual with your honest insights. I love how you open up ideas which are so familiar to my thinking even when I haven't consciously considered them, if that makes any sense. You are a blessing.

- December 21st, 2022 at 9:41am

So glad the words resonated with your heart. Hope you have a blessed Christmas.