Do you need a reason to celebrate this year?
I have been there. No matter where I looked I couldn’t find a reason that was big enough to get me past all the other reasons to grieve. You’re not alone, and it’s ok.
If you’re in a season of difficulty, I want you to know you have permission to tone it down. There is no pressure to perform. Even if it feels like you HAVE to produce all the bells and whistles of the Christmas season to satisfy everyone else – you don’t. Everyone could use a bit of subtle reverence in their lives. It’s ok to not blow it out like every other year.
When the world around us rejoices with a bright and loud cheer, we can be led to feel like there is something wrong with us. My joy is loud, but it hasn’t always been, and your’s doesn’t have to be either.
There are some helpful ways I have maintained my joy and gratitude even in times when it didn’t show on the outside.
- Recognize the real feelings. If you’re struggling to “get it up” and celebrate the way others are, or the way you’ve done in the past, it’s important that you identify the reason. If you don’t, you may find yourself angry and frustrated with those around you. The Grinch took his personal pain out on those who were genuinely joyful. It wasn’t their fault, but it exacerbated his pain because he wasn’t aware of the source of his anger.
- Give yourself permission to dim the lights. You don’t have to put on the show like you have in the past just to please others. It’s vital that others in your family or friend group understand where you’re at and that you share with them the reason you are a bit turned down this year. AND BE OK WITH IT, even if they aren’t.
- Keep your thoughts in front of the Lord. It may feel as if others don’t understand your pain or grief. I’ve heard things like, “it’s been so long since that happened,” or “but look at all the good stuff around you.” Everyone has a different process and you can bless them to not understand. So, instead of relying on others to understand and even give you permission, share all your thoughts and feelings with the Lord. He really does understand you and he cares about all of it.
- Make a gratitude list and check it twice. When it feels like nothing is permanent or trustworthy, what you can rely on is that God is good. Turn your attention to the things you are grateful for. This can be hard! I know this all too well. Your flesh doesn’t want to focus on the good. Misery loves company and your flesh is a powerful voice against gratitude. So do it anyway! Start with the small things and watch that list grow long! Then, read it over and over.
- Ask the Lord what he wants you to do. God never wants to overwhelm you, but he does want to keep you moving forward. Ask him what he wants for you…sometimes he’ll say, “just sit here with me for a bit,” or “start with a shower today,” or “let’s go get a tree, but you don’t have to decorate it, just enjoy the smell.” He knows what you need and what you can handle. He is so faithful.
If you’re not in a season of difficulty or grief, that’s great, but it’s important we remember our lives move through many stages and those who are in places different than us, are granted permission to be right where they are. If your joy is loud in this season, ask the Lord how you can assist someone. You may be surprised by the answer.
Joy Bringer’s Advent