A few years ago, it definitely was not beginning to look like Christmas in my city in mid-December. At least, not on the surface. With temperatures well above freezing and no snow on the ground, I still found myself singing “Jingle Bells” as I darted around my neighbourhood in my power-chair, a rare luxury in December! I was finishing up some last-minute shopping and I slipped into the Hallelujah Chorus as I rejoiced. There were no snowdrifts to plough through! I thanked God for this unusual gift.
However, the traditionalist within me lamented. There would be no “White Christmas.” I would miss that cosy feeling that came as I looked out a frosty window on a snowy, blustery Christmas Eve. As I wasn’t travelling home for the holidays that year, I knew that there wouldn’t be any children ripping open carefully chosen presents, and there wouldn’t be any Legos to trip over. I even found myself lamenting that I wouldn’t have a turkey dinner, which was a ridiculous complaint at the time. I had a severe sensitivity to turkey for most of my life.
My Hallelujah Chorus was quickly morphing into a dirge. If I continued my gloomy litany, I’d only allow myself to be caught up in the trap the enemy set. The enemy knows if he convinces me that my joy is dependent on the actions of other people, my surroundings or even a that is set before me, he has succeeded. I’m in deception.
The truth is my joy is not dependent on gifts that I receive on Christmas morning. It’s not reliant on the smiles given in thanks when my family and friends open their presents from me. My joy is not dependent on the weather or my physical health or what I eat. My joy won’t disappear merely by an uncomfortable night’s sleep in a strange bed. My joy won’t vanish at the sound of a wailing child on a crowded bus. My joy cannot be robbed by a rude clerk, an angry word spoken over breakfast, or an ungrateful response to a gift. My joy is not dependent on any external validation that those around me love me.
Circumstances can’t rob you of your joy, but your attitude and responses to those circumstances can!
The permanent gift of joy was given to the world over 2,000 years ago. That joy became part of my spiritual DNA the day I accepted Christ as my Redeemer. When disappointment rises up and threatens to overwhelm me, God invites me to perform an internal check. Am I remaining in His love? Do I love others as He loved me? Am I responding in forgiveness and patience even when everything within me wants to do the opposite? If not, I still have access to that joy inexpressible. I just need to do an inner recalibration, clean the lens from which I see my world, and move on.
1 Peter 1:8 – “You believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.”
That initial sensation of what you might describe as a negative emotion is not sinful or evil. It is an instinctual response to challenging external circumstances. However, what you choose to do beyond that initial sensation can either be a problem or it can be an opportunity for spiritual and emotional growth. It is YOUR choice. Choose well.
Go out of your way in the weeks leading up to Christmas to choose to keep your joy intact by:
1. Remembering that everyone else in that grocery store, parking lot, or mall is just as stressed out as you are. They are not deliberately trying to ruin your day. Don’t be part of a chain reaction of poor choices. Step away, and you’ll stop the momentum.
2. Deliberately de-stress. If you don’t think you can get it ‘all’ done by Christmas, then you have too many things on your to-do list. Sit down and have a realistic look at that list. Remind yourself that Christmas is about His presence and not your presents.
3. Pick one evening a week to turn off your devices and turn on a feel-good movie. Turn up some inspirational Christmas music, turn down the lights. You can find a bunch of music playlists on my YouTube Channel. They are free to listen to.
Don’t forget; we’ll be discussing this on my weekly feature “Let’s Discuss” on YouTube, Tuesday night at 5 PM Mountain Standard Time. If you subscribe to my channel, and hit the bell once you subscribe, choosing the ‘all’ option that will pop up, you’ll receive an email reminder about the live chat.
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All Bible verses attributed to the ESV version unless otherwise indicated.
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Until Next Week,
©2019 Katherine Walden
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