Last night, I was given the opportunity to share my heart with women from my church. It was this beautiful night of sitting and basking in the fellowship of friends and preparing our hearts for the coming of the Lord. The atmosphere was one of peace — an intentional slowing down, breathing deep, and deciding to instead calm ourselves and focus on the real important – Jesus.
I was asked to share about finding joy in Christmas.
And that got me thinking. Finding joy. How did my heart become one seeking, looking, aching for those finding joy moments? Well, you see, about six years ago I had made this “deal” with the Lord — and it was basically me bartering that if He would fix the problems — my husband going through cancer treatments, financial strains, and so on — that then once that was good then I could be on fire for Him and really live. Happy. But that idea of happy was all dependent on an earthly ideal that I wanted fixed first.
So I came to this place, this cross roads in life — either I was going to live numb (see humbled) or I was going to live where I was, in the nitty-gritty hard places with a husband going through cancer treatments and no job and bills piling up, joyful for the good, the gifts in where ever I was in the day. It was one or the other. And so, I remember beginning to choose joy. That joy meant turning away from the idea of being happy, and developing a posture in my heart looking beyond the mess and seeking, finding His joy in my messy life.
It was the little things. The smiles on my kids faces, the candles flickering, a friend calling, the smell of cookies baking.
The world preaches happy at Christmas. It tells us that if we get this gift, or wear this, or go to this event, or decorate this way, or do this and this and this then we can have the perfect happy Christmas. And all that chasing of happy can rob our hearts of the joy that is found in Christmas. We’re so busy straining after a worldly ideal that by the time Christmas is done we’re thankful for the peace found in Christmas being over. Those things, those extras of Christmas – the decorating, the gifts, the parties – they can be good, in fact, they are good. We need to remember, I need to remember, they’re extras. Electives. The birth of Jesus is all we really need.
Intentionally slow down.
Begin to look beyond the glitz, the advertising, the busyness, and slow down.
I remember that Christmas, the Christmas of 2005 when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. I remember it as being this painful, raw Christmas — and yet, I also remember it being a place of peace and joy that was so sweet and beautiful. I was forced to slow down. To look away from the things of this world and instead I began to force myself to relearn how to see Christmas for what it truly is — the birth of Jesus. Not the stuff. No, no, not the stuff.
And so here I sit. December 2011. With a choice. Do I jump into the frenzy that the world pushes on Christmas or do I remember to keep the posture of my heart – a posture of finding joy – His joy, in Christmas?
The stuff doesn’t equal happy.
The babe in the manger, humbled for us, is joy.
That’s what I want to remember.
That’s the perfect Christmas.