I want you to think of something that you really wanted for Christmas when you were a kid. Make sure you choose something that you actually ended up receiving! It should be the kind of gift that made it difficult for you to sleep on Christmas Eve. You couldn’t wait for it. When you discovered that very gift waiting for you in the morning you began hyperventilating and being terribly overdramatic. (Wait, was that just me?) Ok, have you picked something yet? Did you choose your most-desired Christmas gift? Good.
New question: Did you wake up thinking about that Christmas item this morning?
Isn’t it amazing that something that held so much JOY all those years ago is now lost and forgotten. Maybe the memory of it put a smile on your face. But the truth is that stuff (no matter how great in the moment) just doesn’t bring lasting joy.
But what about the huge trampoline that was waiting in the backyard in 4th grade? I don’t think I even asked for it. It was an AMAZING surprise that brought joy to my siblings and I (and let’s face it, the whole neighborhood) for years. But like everything else, the trampoline wore out, fell apart, and eventually made it’s way to the trash.
Even if you enjoyed your favorite item for a few years, it doesn’t hold the same daily joy for you now.
So if we want joy like Christmas morning throughout the season, do we simply continue to replace the old stuff with the new stuff?
Rather than changing out our stuff, I think we need a change of heart and mindset. God is always in the business of changing us from the inside out. He desires for us to find real and lasting joy- something that’s done by spending time in His presence. It’s totally contrary to the solution the world would give us.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2.
I tend to lose joy when I put all the focus on me. Joyless living is often wrapped up in self-focus and selfishness. So how do I break the cycle this season and stay tuned to sing God’s grace?
Step #11. Spread Joy
Buddy the Elf was headed in the general direction when he quips, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”
I think our joy is multiplied when we look upward and outward. Too much time on MY list, MY expectations, MY gifts and suddenly worry, resentment, and stress can take over. Joy flows most often when we take a step back from ourselves and notice those around us. Joy comes from blessing and encouraging others, rather than focusing on our own needs. When life is all about me, it leaves little room for the joy that emerges through loving people.
“The secret of joy is always a matter of focus: a resolute focusing on the Father, not on the fears. All fear is but the notion that God’s love ends.” (Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift)
I long for my heart to remain tuned to the key of grace. I want my interactions at the post office, grocery store, and with my family to bring joy, so my prayer is that I will choose joy in spite of any challenging circumstances or unmet expectations. The Lord has come, what a reason to spread the joy!
“Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.”
To catch up on the rest of the series:
Step #1. Demonstrate Gratitude
Step #5. Listen for the Echoes