“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” – Galatians 5:22-23
Just a couple of days ago, I shared with you all how much I hate Christmas. I know. I went there. It was as if all of the joy for the day had been sapped out of me and there wasn’t anything left for me to do but grin and bear it, so-to-speak. There are a few things I want to pass on now that the hustle and bustle are over and a certain level of normalcy is returning. Before I do, I need to let you know it is only through hindsight I can see what I am about to share. None of it was in the moment, even if I did have the faint awareness of it during the time.
On Christmas Eve I had the blessing of a good friend come and help me clean up the house and wrap the gifts Santa was leaving for the Littles. Now this friend has many years of following and listening to God’s still small voice as she has traveled this thing called life. (She has buried an adult child, lost another to personal choices, has suffered from cancer and chemo and is now in remission, just to name a few of the reasons I value her perspective and advice when hardships arise.) As we sat at the table and wrapped presents she shared some of her favorite Christmas memories and I shared mine (there’s a blog post about that in here somewhere – from many years ago). Then I shared with her what was going on concerning Christmas this year.
I want to sit here and share all of the words spoken, the many things she told me or directed me on, but instead all I truly remember her saying is along these lines, “the joy of Christmas is so much bigger than the circumstances we have while celebrating it.” I know, right?! We talked for a while more and then the girls and I went to the Christmas eve service at our old church (it is a tradition they love and they asked me if we could go months ago). It was a wonderful service - which we were nearly 15 minutes late to, but we did get to spend 45 minutes singing, praying, and sharing in fellowship with others. TO be honest, besides the candle lighting at the end, our favorite part of the service is the special story that is read in lieu of an official “sermon”. Every year it is different from the year before. And wouldn’t you know, this year’s story focused on one main concept – finding true joy during Christmas.
Fast forward to Christmas morning, a time I was dreading due to all of the things we had to get done in such a short time, and well, God worked it out. Perfectly. In the best way, possible. Just like he does – even when we (ok, I) don’t always think he will. It was a morning that not only was full of joy (evidenced in the eyes and reactions of our Littles) but one that I truly enjoyed. Yes, there was still a lot of chaos and logistical craziness, but I managed and I wasn’t too late for any of it! (Being the one driving, everyone else was somewhat dependent upon me to get them where they needed to go.) After dropping all the Littles off at their next Christmas celebrations (blended families add new blessings) I got to have a wonderful Christmas dinner with my friend (whom I spoke of earlier) and her family while the Mr. was at work (public service personnel do not get the luxury of holidays off).
Then today as I was reading more of the book, Crash the Chatterbox, I read this, “My joy is not determined by what happens to me but by what Christ is doing in me and through me.” People…I think I got it! Three times I was reminded of joy and how we can have it no matter what. And, if I were to take a literary leap, just like Scrooge was given three views to find his Christmas spirit, I believe I was shown three times how to find the joy in mine.
I hope you all had a blessed holiday and that no matter what it looked like, felt like, smelled like (???), it was all like it was supposed to be.