It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? We have those words pouring into our devices, our stores, our television ads, and even in our mailbox. How anyone could be unhappy when Christmas arrives is something that often leaves some questioning that person’s Christmas spirit. Unfortunately, there are life circumstances or insurmountable pressure to do it all that some will never understand that leave folks feeling joy-less. It’s just that subject I want to touch on today. I choose JOY despite what life throws at me.
I will be the first to say that I’m not always joyful in my heart of hearts, especially when this holiday season rolls around. Why? Because of what it’s become – commercialized, fake, unfocused on the exact reason we celebrate this holiday at all. However, if I choose to latch onto the negative feelings, that will surely find me lacking in joy in all I do.
In past years, I’ve shared with you about our family trials with health and children. In addition, I’ve also shared about our debt trials and joys. Boy, if life wasn’t a roller coaster, it would be a pretty boring ride, wouldn’t it?
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. James 1:2
You see, about 2 weeks ago I decided to take my kids on a “get-out-and-be-free” adventure. I had been working extra hard to fulfill custom orders and needed a break. Plus, I knew the weather was going to be superb for our area this time of year (near 60 & sunny at the end of November is a dream day). We headed out for a bit of hiking and soaking in nature. It’s my way of appeasing the country girl in me. I seriously never dreamed of raising my kids on a city lot.
We had a blast. The minute we exited the vehicle, they begin to beg me, “Can we just go run?? Can we??” They take off sprinting and racing, even throwing themselves downhill to roll. Can you tell we’re an outdoor family?
Aaahhh…the freedom of being in nature. This fills my heart with joy, but at the same time a bit of sadness they have to come to somewhere to feel this freedom. We are by no means trapped in our location, but as I said…being a kid who grew up running bare foot through forests, I felt their joy of feeling free.
After the day was nearing an end, we headed home to make dinner, do more work, and then try to settle for the evening. My daughter had to stage her recently refinished vanity the next day, so I asked her if she needed my help. She said no, but I helped anyway. It was during those minutes that it hit me. My left eye blacked out for about 30 seconds. No other symptoms, just my eye.
Like anyone, I got scared. The blackness passed quickly and left me puzzled. I had two instances over the summer where my left eye went haywire. I chalked it up to my alignment being off because I’ve been a hot mess. Needless to say, this got my attention. I try to get into a doctor, but no one had an appointment for a regular visit. Instead, I went to the ER. While y’all were out black Friday shopping, I sat getting poked and waiting results.
Many tests were run to rule out what I had assumed was a possible mini-stroke. All test came back negative for any such thing, but I was prescribed to see an optometrist. I did that. Same. No test showed anything amiss. The doctor believes my summer episodes to be a retinal migraine caused by stress (as well as possible dehydration due to the time of year and my workload). Believe me, I was under HUGE stress thanks to a neighbor.
However, this time around, the blackout is believed to be related to an alignment issue causing a pinch in my optical nerve. Also, followed by an infection I had in my nasal passage which was causing slight pain. *while many of you may be concerned, please refrain from leaving me medical advice in comments. You can email me if you like, but I want the focus of this post to be on the positive. Thank you.
Why do I share this with you? Well, the days that I had to process what was going on left me terrified, anxious, nervous, and sort of angry. I had just paid off the last of our debt outside of our mortgage and was looking forward to Christmas. Now, I will have medical bills AGAIN that need paid (we do have insurance, but deductibles will win this time). But…I am here. Do I know what the end result will be? No. However, this gal is moving forward.
I CHOOSE JOY
While I could be depressed about not getting to be with my children decorating or fretting about what might be, I choose joy. There were other folks in that ER in far dire circumstances than I. Because of the timing over the holiday of all of this, I had to wait a bit to continue getting seen by doctors. I wasn’t up to my normal energy, but I wasn’t going to miss out on a BIG event for me and my family.
This is to be the very first year we have a real tree. Why is this such a big deal? Well, as a kid a fresh tree was all I knew. My parents would load up our truck, drive off into the forest on their property with us tucked in the back. We are on the hunt for our very own Christmas tree. Mind you, not just any tree, but usually a 20 ft tall one for the living room had glorious cathedral ceilings.
We’ve only ever had faux because it’s what we had. This time though, I am staying true to my self-imposed motto, No Regrets. So, the Saturday after my ER visit, we went on our own family tree hunt at a local farm. I will let the pictures tell the story, but I can say this is one of my fondest memories to date. Joy in my family, joy in nature, and joy that I am here today.
It’s a sad reality that the holiday season has the highest depression and suicide rates. That is only the Liar, the devil, doing his work to quench the joy in our Savior. Tell him to shut up! Do you feel like you’re carrying a load that no one understands? I’ve been there – oh, so many times. I also know how freeing it is to let the load go and give it to God. I have to each and every day. Maybe you have insurmountable health problems, or a strained relationship, bills that are mounting, or feeling utterly alone.
He is waiting…just waiting to give you the strength you need. All we need do is ask. God only knows.
THE FUTURE & CHALLENGE
Not one of us knows what the future brings. I plan to make the most of the time allotted me. No, I can’t force my hand and have everything just as I want it. Maybe you are unhappy with your job, your home, your marriage, your parenting…the list goes on. What is stealing your joy? Identify it and give it to God.
Have you ever seen the movie Pollyanna (a book by Eleanor H. Porter)? A little orphan girl comes to live with her high society aunt. Pollyanna is always telling others how she can find the happy in anything. She essentially faces her own debilitating accident and loses faith. The community, that she affected positively, help her find her joy again. Proof that we need to build each other up as a community, a society, a people.
As far as I know, there is always a speck of hope in every situation to find joy. I haven’t been faced with everything there is to encounter in this life. Therefore, I look to stories of the past. How can David write the Psalms with fear and joy? He believes. Or how about Job who loses everything dear to him and finds it within himself to find joy. There are even modern-day stories of folks who still bring light in the most desperate times.
THIS CHRISTMAS & EVERY DAY
You are officially challenged. Instead of being filled with the Christmas spirit, I ask you to fill yourself with joy on daily basis. Giving hope, love, peace, joy is not limited to one time of year. Seek the Savior in each day. Pay that compliment to the grump in your office, help that person who won’t ask for it, smile like you’re alive and ready to take on the world. Negativity is the death of us all. Today and every day CHOOSE JOY. Undoubtedly you will see the change transform your life and the life of others.
I’ve created a free printable for you to use for yourself. Print them out and stick one in your car, one in your bedroom, one in your bathroom…you get the idea. However, I also want you to share it. Do you know someone needing a hug? Or how about the person you see looking down? Maybe your cashier is going through something. You just never know who just spent time in the ER waiting…like me. Print them out and share the joy – even write a note on the back.
I can’t help that I have such happiness that I want to share it with you. I’m bursting at the seams! Likewise, don’t fall into that rut no matter what stage of life, choose JOY.
For fun, here’s the story behind this phenomenal song – HEAD HERE.
With that, consider yourself prayed for and loved on by lil’ ol’ me. My gift to you each day is to bring my joy in all I do. I am wishing you the Merriest of all Christmas now and forever more. Don’t let the push to perform and meet self-inflicted/societal pressures bring you down. In addition, I have a little something to send to you if you need a boost. All you need do is drop me an email. Don’t wait…reach out.
Finally, I want to hear from you. Not only tell us how you find joy, but how you spread joy to others. Lift us up!
Also, pin and share to reach those that need it most.