Joy is a life saver
The cheerful busyness of the holiday season has caught up with me and today I realize I’m weary of it all. It’s a day when the carefully constructed decorations seem cluttered and extravagant … when I secretly think if I hear Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree one more time I’m going to scream. When I lament the timing of six days until Christmas and I never did get the wreath tied to the front of my vehicle. How utterly ridiculous.
Outside looking in. I stood in the darkness staring at the lights last night. They wrap around the porch railings and trail across the banister leading up the front steps. A bulb in the upstairs window went dark. I had the strongest urge to unplug every strand and wrap them into tidy bundles until next year. Clean it all up, rid myself of the reminder.
Nope. Not joking.
As is the case, “When mom’s not happy, nobody’s happy!”
It’s unfair that mothers can’t have a bad day without affecting everyone else in the household. Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise, though, because if my children didn’t mirror my melancholy moods and react in ways I find deplorable, I’d probably settle in for a good, long depressing day or two. Fortunately, I don’t like to hear squabbles and arguments, or see big sisters dragging little brothers down the hall because he won’t let go of something that belongs to her.
Truly … nothing snaps me back to responsible adulthood and whip-crackin’ mommy mode like a fight between siblings. And hey, now the chores are getting done and I get to avoid the dirty dishwater. Excellent.
There is cheer all around and it’s lovely and heartwarming and fills me with thankful security. But there’s sadness, too. There are sick people and crushing accidents, there are daily atrocities and horrific circumstances that occur while the rest of us make crafts and bake cookies and sing Jingle Bells one more time. The sadness catches us unaware and often, unprepared for the grief that follows and emptiness that takes over the soul if we let it.
Joy must not stop when pain sets in and perhaps that’s the greatest challenge of all. The plight of every human heart is the miracle of God’s flawless creation. There was a beautiful baby in the arms of a gentle mother with a fierce love. Her spirit soared at the gift and too soon, trembled with overwhelming and unimaginable grief when he gave so we could be forgiven.
I’m not worthy of her sacrifice. I most certainly do not deserve His. But love does and will conquer all.
That’s where the melancholy comes in … right there in the midst of commercialized cheer and expectations of man-made joy. We forget the love, the sacrifice, the miracle of birth and the ripping, gut-wrenching pain of death. We skim over words of the Christmas carols and forget that a candlelight service represents the light of the world, burning always for you and me. We glance at gift tags without considering the greatest gift of all came at the willingness of a holy spirit transformed into earthly man for us.
No greater love.
We wrap earthly treasures in pretty paper and shiny ribbons. We share with loved ones, neighbors and sometimes a stranger who may seem unrecognizable but in truth travels the same road, wears the same garments of hope and joy, sadness and grief, selfishness and pity, confusion and loss. Different circumstances, same questions and always the struggle.
Faith of a child? It’s certainly something to strive for, because while I’m wallowing in to do lists and lethargy, a child in my house quietly paints a picture and hangs it on the refrigerator. Are we always destined to out-do ourselves with too much thinking and not enough knowing? Perhaps. It’s so very clear, though … staring us in the face if only we turn to see.
Peace can only come from joy in our heart.
Joy envelops us only when faith supercedes the unknown.
And true joy is not a cheerful, happy, oblivious stupor. It is love in the midst of evil, acceptance in the midst of sorrow, forgiveness in the face of pain, and steadfast hope in the mire of confusion.
Joy is peace that passes all understanding.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son
that whoever believes in Him will not perish but
HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.
It’s the gift freely given now and always. It’s the reason for the season and the miracle of the ages. It will cost you everything. It’s a life saver.