Monday, December 11, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide: True Joy

This verse just doesn't want to leave me alone. Everywhere I go this verse comes up. I think God may be trying to tell me something and it's time for me to stop and listen.

You see, I am a planner girl and I love to organize! I don't necessarily think that planning is a bad thing. God does want us to be responsible and organized but only with the things that he allows us to control. This is where I struggle! Realizing what is and isn't under my control can be hard. There are a lot of things that I think I can control or fix, until finally I realize I can't.

This season, and more so, this year, I have slowly started to let go of those things that I want to control, but know I can't. I am not saying that I am completely worry free and have submit all control to Him, because if I am being honest, I do take it back sometimes.

I'm getting there!!! You see, I had a lot of things planned for this week, this month, this season, this year even, but those things didn't happened. The expectations of so many things, just fell short.

My word for 2017 was JOY! I wanted to find joy, true joy, in everything, even in the expectations that fell short, and caused a lot pain and hurt. Of course, as I sit here and type this blog post, I realize that I am amidst the season that is supposed to be the most joyful time of year, right? But what do you do when Christmas is not full of joy like everyone says it should be?

Bear with me for a minute, while I break this down for you. I promise I am going somewhere with this!!

What if I told you, that the Christmas we know, the one that we celebrate on December 25th, is not actually the date that Jesus was born. That it wasn't even in Winter, but early Fall. And,....What if I also told you, that the joy we expect to find at Christmas time, the sparkly lights, the Christmas music, the gifts, all the parties & festivities, isn’t really TRUE joy.

Don’t get me wrong, all of that stuff is nice and it does make us happy, for the moment, but it is all just things. What happens when Christmas is over and all of those things are gone? Do we still feel that same joyous feeling?

To me, joy is not a feeling, so much as it is a state of being. When I was younger, my mom always told me, that in order to find real joy, I needed to do this.

J- Jesus First
O- Others Second
Y- Yourself last

What does this look like you might ask? Let’s just say, this Christmas you have a heavy burden that you are carrying and there is nothing, not even that gift you have always wanted, that can bring you joy. Or, maybe, it’s not just one big thing, but a million little things, that have you all stressed and you just can’t find it in you to be joyful.

I’ve been there friends, but what changes our perspective during these circumstances is when we put Jesus first, when we acknowledge that we need Him. We lift up our hurts and burdens to Him and trust that He is in control and that His love never fails. Secondly, we take the focus off of ourselves and whatever our situation may be, and instead, we focus on others around us and how we can encourage them. This is hard, but when we put Jesus first and ask Him for the strength to do this, it is possible. Let’s also not forget that when we serve others and show love to our neighbors, Whom is it that we are really serving????


And I am sure you can guess what happens when we do this? Our problems, our hurts, our burdens, they become the last thing we think about, because our focus is no longer on ourselves. This, my friends is how we find true joy, because it’s not about us. It’s not about all the gifts, or all of the parties. It’s not about the perfectly decorated home or our schedule full of festive activities. These things may bring us joy, but it’s only temporary.

It's about the ones we love. Our family, our friends, our interactions with others and how we see Jesus in them. It's all the moments, good and bad, that He is there with us! Showing His love for us.

And it's us, putting Him first and fully trusting Him. Just like that first Christmas when He was born unto us. Mary trusted! She believed! She knew Who He was and what He was going to become. The ultimate Gift of joy, the Savior to this World.

So instead of writing out a list of gifts for you to buy, like I had originally planned, I write to you about the One Ultimate Gift. My prayer is that during this Christmas season you are able to find it. I pray that amidst your plans and festivities that you make room for Him! I know that for me, it took changing a lot of what I originally had planned to do. I had to cancel some of my plans and cross off a few of my to-dos. I had to let go of what I wanted to control and trust His plan, not just for Christmas, but in every Season of my life!

Many Blessings,

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