Last Sunday I posted a “word of the day” to my Facebook page. The word was JOY. I shared a verse from Psalm 30:5, which says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” I was referring to the unfortunate reality that despite the “magic” of the holidays, so many of us become overwhelmed and lose sight of our blessings. Sound like you? Some days, it sure sounds like me. Reflecting back on this year, I was definitely put to the test on many an occasion – one of the biggest tests being just last night.
Do you ever have those moments when you think God is trying to get your attention? Exactly 24 hours after that Facebook post I had one of those “God moments”. It was an especially rainy night, but nothing we hadn’t experienced before. In fact, I was pretty cozy, safe and warm in the house as the rain and winds swirled outside.
Then the dam bursts…
On this particular night, I was starting to pack for an upcoming Christmas trip. As I approached my closet, I noticed the carpet was slowly becoming saturated with water. Within a half hour, it was like the Hoover Dam had burst in my basement apartment (OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea). My little saturation spot became a puddle, and eventually a pool. Water was moving across the room faster than I could soak it up.
As my adrenaline rush took over, I went into beast mode! It was a flurry of towels, buckets, pulling things up off the floor, more towels, snapping pictures, moving furniture, helpful neighbors with a wet-dry vac (love them!), and more towels…
When we had done as much as we could for the night (and I finished washing and drying all seven loads of soppy towels) I prayed for dry weather overnight and I my head finally hit the pillow at 3:45 am.
Finding your joy, the day after.
Most of the next day was filled with phone calls and meetings with insurance agents, a foundation expert, a plumber, and our resident manager – ALL of whom took the time to help us diagnose the problem and try to come up with solutions, just one day before Christmas Eve. There will be much cleanup and repair to come, but one look at the news on any given day, and I am reminded that there are so many other people out there who are much worse off than we are. I guess when you come right down to it, that realization is the recipe for finding your joy, and what better time to reflect on that than at Christmas.
The secret sauce.
Almost everyone is happy when things are going well, but it’s not easy finding your joy amidst chaos. Sometimes, though, we give up before we even try, and eventually become like Ebenezer Scrooge with his Bah Humbug attitude. But what if we played a little game each time things didn’t go our way? The “at least” game could be the secret sauce to the recipe of how to find more joy in our struggles. You just might see that finding your joy is rarely an unhappiness problem, it’s often a perspective problem.
“I’m broke now because of that unexpected car expense this month.”
“At least we have food, a home, and gas in the car.”
“That fool stole my parking spot!”
“At least now I can get some exercise by walking a little farther.“
“This traffic is horrendous!”
“At least I can use this time to call an old friend (using a hands-free device, of course).“
Rather than dwelling on the problem at hand, in that very moment, try to think in terms of what you are grateful for, and spin it into a positive statement. After all, everything we experience in life can be looked at in either a positive or a negative light, and the way you perceive things often manifests itself in your actions. If we aren’t careful, these actions become habits. So be mindful of your habits, and try the “at least” game for a few days and see if it helps shift your perspective.
Finding your joy.
It’s easy to be happy when things are going great, but when things are tough, keep the faith that life is good! You just have to believe it and you will perceive it. In this holiday season intended to bring “Joy to the World”, make it your goal to start by finding joy in even the tiniest of things.
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’” — Luke 2:10-11
If you are struggling this Christmas season, remember that you are not defined by your circumstances. Remember that Jesus, the prince of peace, the reason for the season, was met with hatred, pain, and ridicule, and He is the ultimate example of finding joy in all things, as He made the ultimate sacrifice for us all. Trust that there is a plan for you, too, and know that you are loved, during the chaos, the joyous times, and every day in between.
Merry Christmas and may your 2015 be filled with peace, prosperity, and dreams fulfilled!