JOY IN THE CHAOS
By Sarah Anderson
I have a long history of being a bit of a wreck on Christmas. I love anticipation, hype, excitement. But I hate the letdown. And every Christmas, with big hopes and expectations, comes the potential for big letdown.
Growing up, it would be over not getting the right toy, size, or style. As I’ve gotten older, the letdowns are more significant. It seems Christmastime is when the gap is the greatest between the expectation of how things should be and the reality of how things are. It’s a season of hope often followed by a twinge of disenchantment.
t’s hectic family gatherings that require more emotional stability and grace than you feel
equipped to handle.
It’s unresolved tensions that result in icy silence or fiery explosions.
It’s childhood magical dreams subtly morphing into incessant demands.
It’s the sense of loss...
of the spouse who isn’t there.
the children who aren’t coming home.
the parents whose absence feels more acute and intense than any other time of the year.
It should be peaceful. Joyful. Hopeful. Magical. And yet, for many, it simply isn’t.
The tension lies in wanting to reclaim the season we want in light of the season we have.
But what if making that happen didn’t have to involve a life renovation? Lewis Smedes writes, “Joy is gratitude,” meaning:
Joy is accessible.
Joy doesn’t have to be a scarcity.
It isn’t happiness.
It isn’t perfection.
It isn’t pretending things aren’t how they really are. It isn’t pasted on smiles and selective memory or hearing. And it’s not just “holding it together.”
Joy is gratitude for what is right even when so much isn’t.
We can be joyful. Because we can be grateful, even in all the difficulty that Christmas may bring. Do we want to uncomplicate Christmas?
Then let’s get back to the basics. Look for the good. Look for the right. Look for a reason—any reason at all—to be grateful. Don’t worry about bringing joy to the whole world, but work at bringing joy enough to your world.
Our schedules may be busy.
Our families may be dysfunctional.
Our kids—as hard as we are working to ensure otherwise—may appear to be missing the point of Christmas all together.
But despite all that may be working against us, we have the opportunity to set the tone in a season that was intended to remind us of how involved our God is—at all times. Let’s first be thankful for that.
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