Finding Joy in Christmas - When Everything 'Feels' Wrong
by Ellen DuBois
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The year 2001 proved to be a life altering one. Barring our own personal problems which already may have had you in a state of despair, the attack on America left the nation- the world- in a state of sadness, disbelief and hopelessness.
As we are surrounded by the sites and sounds of Christmas, many of us show a bittersweet smile while gazing at lovely Christmas lights or hearing a children's choir. We feel guilty for feeling happy when we are surrounded by so much tragedy and reflect upon a world that 'once was'.
It feels like the Christmas spirit has been knocked out of our sails and we are drifting aimlessly upon a sea of tears.
Yes, it's been one heck of a year. The loss we have sustained is incomprehensible. Combined with our individual problems; we're left wondering how to get through Christmas with joy in our hearts. Where is the room for joy when our hearts are filled to the brim with sorrow?
My eyes mist when I think of the lives lost and the families who must be struggling to shop for their remaining family members. What angst they must be experiencing. Those of us who didn't lose anyone feel for them- but, also feel helpless. How can we take away their pain? How can we make it easier for them to get through the season? That weighs heavily on many of us and contributes further to our attempts of feeling joy during a season that's supposed to be joyous.
I've reflected a lot on this because of my own feelings of confusion and despair this Christmas. I've battled with guilt and sorrow. I've wondered if I should even bother decorating for Christmas when there are so many out there caught in the web of grief. My heart bleeds for them.
I ask myself, "What right do I have to be happy?"
I've come to the conclusion that it's okay, even necessary to experience the joy and hope of Christmas this year. If we take our focus away from the gifts and decorations and point it towards what Christmas really is- we will find comfort, solace, peace and joy. For Christmas is Christ and Christ is eternal love, hope, life, joy and peace. Isn't that what we need right now- more than ever?
By focusing on Christ- the very reason this holiday exists- our burdens become lighter as we see a message of great hope and comfort. No, our pain isn't gone. No, we can't bring back those who were lost and no, we can't reverse time. But, there is no load too heavy that Christ won't carry for us. His birth was and is the greatest 'Christmas Present' anyone could ever hope for. And it's real. Through Christ and His message to us, we can take comfort in many things. 1. Those beautiful people who were lost in the tragic attack on America are with our loving Father in a realm that is real, alive and eternal. Though not with us physically, they are very much alive and happy. They are missed dearly on the earthly plane, but are living a wonderful, fulfilling life in a world much more beautiful than the one we remain in. 2. No matter how heavy your load may be, Christ is always there to help you with it. His gift of hope, comfort, help, healing and life is there for you. You will be carried through your darkest hours. You will never be alone. There is someone right beside you who will get you through anything this world dishes out. Just ask. 3. The light of Christ shines within each and every one of us. The beauty of lights upon a tree or shining from a window symbolize his omnipresent light. If you do decide to put up lights this year- and are struggling with feelings of confusion - remember what those lights symbolize. They are symbols of the light of Christ and cannot ever be snuffed out. By displaying lights, you are showing hope to others who may need to be reminded of it very, very much.
It is my hope that we can, even with our very real pain, not just 'get through' Christmas, but celebrate it. It's not the pretty packages and ribbons that make Christmas what it is. It's God's promise to us all- His Love for us all- His ultimate display of His love for us by sending his only son to earth to show us we have eternal life through Him. That's what Christmas is about. Now more than ever before we need to hold fast to that promise and by doing that, we will find the joy in Christmas this year; even if it's amidst tears.
May the light of Christ shine in all of your hearts this Christmas; give you comfort, peace and joy.
"Peace on Earth- Good will to men."
© Ellen M. DuBois
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You hit the nail squarly on the head, Ellen. We must keep our focus on Jesus. I pray that God uses us to shine His light and His love during this season which can be so depressing for so many people.