I’ve been thinking about what I want to write about joy for a couple of weeks, but I haven’t actually sat down to write anything besides the Christmas letter I sent to my friends and family. It’s a familiar scenario for all of us writers, I’m sure. I’ve been so busy with my little family, and writing seemed like a luxury that I wasn’t able to give myself.
As I set about trying to find joy this holiday season, I almost lost it instead. At the beginning of the month, I wanted to put up the Christmas tree for the girls, and ended up cursing at the two strings of light that needed to be replaced. Yet Joy crept in and found me among the branches as Lily and Emmy excitedly planned where to put all the special ornaments up on the tree.
Both Lily and Emmy participated in choirs and piano playing this December. Making sure they made it to rehearsals on time and also nagging them to practice took a toll on me. Yet somehow, joy once again found me as I sat in the audience, spell-bound by the beautiful music both my daughters and other children were making.
Things that should have filled me with joy often felt stressful; making sure we had a babysitter for our night out; buying gifts for the family (and getting them wrapped); having to miss certain events because we were double-booked; all these things overwhelmed the joy I wanted to feel!
And to top it off, I had to prepare a Christmas dinner after attending two different church services. I had to sing and play the bells on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, both of which bring me joy. But who has time to meal plan with so much going on? I knew I was going to make a ham, but as I was grocery shopping on Christmas Eve, my entire meal plan changed as I decided to make the food simpler than I had planned. And let me tell you, no one has found joy standing in line at the grocery store on Christmas Eve.
It wasn’t until I was standing in the kitchen on Christmas Day, singing along to The Messiah, when I realized that I didn’t need to find joy. Joy would find me, no matter where I was. Joy found me as I sang the descant to Oh Come All Ye Faithful in front of the congregation and as I scrubbed potatoes in the middle of a cluttered kitchen.
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders. And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
The Joy that is Jesus came to you and to me in a manger, as a baby, who was sent to us by God the Father to die for us. Overwhelming? Yes!
As we prepare for the new year, I hope that an overwhelming joy finds you as well, even as the lights are being taken down, the choirs are giving their voices a rest, and the leftover Christmas ham disappears. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!