As we enter the Christmas season, each of us yearns for special moments with family and friends, times where joy and laughter abound. We hold visions of perfect moments in our minds. Much like a Christmas Hallmark movie, we are in search of the happily ever after.
Yet, for many of us the holidays can be a reminder of all that we do not have. Recent losses of loved ones, changes in our friends and families, illness, job changes, etc. that may impact our view. It is easy to focus on loss instead of the joy of this season.
I found myself praying recently with a friend,
“Lord, help us to see the joy all around us, and not in what is missing.”
Sometimes, we try to create “the perfect moment” in our mind, instead of being present to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. The Christmas story has parallel truths that we can learn from. Mary and Joseph were displaced for the moment, journeying to Bethlehem. Can you imagine how they must have felt? Mary was very pregnant, weeks away from delivering their first child. Traveling by camel through the dessert, I cannot imagine this was a journey she looked forward to with anticipation. Joseph too must have been filled with mixed emotions. He was preparing for fatherhood, worried about caring for his pregnant wife and unborn child. As they traveled by day and night, I imagine they were tired, weary and at times filled with worry about all the unknowns. Yet, it was in this time that they relied on God, and He answered. It came time for Mary to deliver, and they found shelter and provisions. Mary birthed baby Jesus and laid him in a manger. Yet, God did not stop his blessings there. Wisemen then came and welcomed baby Jesus, honoring him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In the midst of so many unknowns, hope, love and joy abound in the most unlikely of circumstances.
This is a significant lesson for all of us as hope comes in all kinds of circumstances. Sometimes, the brightest hope is when we are weary and in need of it the most. God keeps His promise, that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). Afterall, Jesus who was born in the most meager of places, in circumstances that were far from ideal, became hope for the world. God shows us that pure joy is not found in our circumstances, but it is all around us, and is ours for the taking.
My mom knew this as she taught me the meaning of Joy. “J is for Jesus, O is for Others, and Y is for Yourself. And Y is last for a reason.” When we seek Jesus first and live a life in service to others, we will find our true self, our joy. JOY is always with us. It is a choice not to focus on ourselves or on what is missing, but to focus on the one who made us and molded us into being. The one who taught us how to live through the giving of ourselves. This is when we will experience the joy that He imagined for us; true joy that will never be fleeting.
My wish for you this Christmas is that you too will choose joy this holiday season. Whether that be in experiencing joy in the sound of a child laughing, seeing the beauty of a sunrise or sunset, listening to the sweet song of a nearby bird, or sending a message of hope through a smile, kind word, phone call or text message.
This Christmas, let us choose to live a JOY-filled life, and be expectant to receive God’s blessings in the least expected places.
If you're interested in purchasing my book, Silent No More, click here. I also have a book signing on December 11 after services at the St. Luke's North Indy campus.
Book Study: Thursdays, January 12 - February 16 | Zoom
Silent No More, captures the whispers God wanted heard, the truths He wanted every person to know—that He does exist, and that each person matters and is valued more than they know. Jody L. Dedon’s writing offers a lifeline for those seeking to understand their own value through the lens of God. Her honesty and vulnerability connects with anyone seeking to improve their lives and overturn the barriers to their personal and spiritual development. Within the pages of Silent No More, readers will find the permission to be their fullest, truest selves as they are empowered by the truth—one that can no longer be hidden. It has to be set free. Register here for this book study.