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.
so beautifully written. i love the christmas season for the family and the cookies and the parties and the cuddling by the fires and the now and the giving of gifts …. but even if thats something i look forward to, the most wonderful lies in why we actually celebrate, the coming of our Lord.
thanks for sharing
I love this post Rachel. A great reminder. I was just having a discussion with my husband last night that echoed your thoughts. Love it!
Blessings my friend.
Wonderful post and reminder!
You just put into words exactly what is on my heart!
I enjoyed this post! I am having a rough morning myself and have been praying for peace. I have all I need and am so blessed, but I was stressed. Christmas should not be so crazy, I am glad I am not the only one wanting to take time to be quiet and think about this amazing celebration.
I love this! Your life is overflowing with joy – I see it in each and every one of your posts. Thank you for helping me to slow down, take deep breaths, and remember the blessings God has given me. You are a blessing.
Joy is so much deeper and lasting than happiness. It is different from the worship of creation (the stuff the world has to offer). Joy is delighting in the Creator. Loved this: “…developing a posture in my heart looking beyond the mess and seeking, finding His joy in my messy life.”
What a beautiful post. Your words of encouragement are so what people, er, uh, I, need to hear. We will all walk through the valley of the shadow of death at some point. Either God is faithful or He isn’t. It is amazing how drawing near to God and His promises during trials can give so much more joy. Thank you for posting!
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breathing it in with you …
… just Jesus
This is the perfect post. You say everything perfectly… I wanted to write something similar but the words wouldn’t come. Now I don’t have to. You said it all. The stuff is just stuff. Only Jesus offers true and lasting joy and hope. I love ya, Rach. I truly wish I was drinking a $2 Caribou with you today. Xoxo!!!
Thanks for this beautiful post Rachel, so very inspiring and what a testimony!
You are a wonderful writer and I’m always blessed when I read your entries.
Blessings to you and your sweet family and I do hope that your shoulder is showing improvement every day. Hugs!
Yes, yes, yes. And thank you for writing this. Living this.
A song, “I Want a Simple Sort of Christmas” keeps going through my head lately. Feeling too “heavy laden” instead… Not what God wants for anyone.
Love it as always!
Praying in Seattle!
Psalms 23:4-6 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
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I’ve had to learn this lesson, too. It’s hard not to think that if things were going perfectly in our lives that we’d be so much happier. But I’ve found that I’ll never get to that ideal state on my own. I’ve asked God to help me live more in the moment, really taking time to appreciate all the little, wonderful things that make up my day – even those days when I’m really sick (I’m chronically sick), and it’s hard to keep up the bare minimum of taking care of the house and kids. There definitely is a difference between joy and happiness, and I’m glad most days I usually reach for joy instead.