Advent: Joy Down in my Heart... Where?

For this third week of Advent, I wanted to approach the theme of joy, but I am finding it difficult. I know in my head there is a distinction between joy and happiness. Happiness is an emotive state that easily fluctuates in relation to changing outside circumstances, moods, or other factors. Joy, on the other hand, is supposed to be a character constant that is rooted in the unchanging Christ.

I know that in my head.

Still…. how do I experience joy when I’m not feeling particularly cheery? 

As my advent reflections have focused on my own upcoming Christmas child, I think of the joy of having a little baby. Of course, word on the street is that it’s not always “happy”: there’s the whole labor situation (thanks, Eve), the crying, and apparently I’m in for some sleepless nights. Yes, somehow joy is not supposed to rest in our circumstances.

I was sitting in the drive-thru at the bank this week, and this forces me to look directly at a very dilapidated house where a variety of characters often saunter in an out in a variety of apparel (think... camouflage coat with pajama pants). This day was bitterly cold and no one was bustling about, but I noticed a simple Christmas wreath on the door. It seemed so out of place it was almost comical. But I immediately thought of joy. It seemed to me that amidst a house that seems to be filled with people struggling with numerous challenges, there was this recognition of joy. A small sign that signified there’s something to be anticipating… Christmas and the Christ child… something that is bigger than our momentary struggles. 

I want to wear that Christmas wreath of joy around my neck – a reminder that my God is bigger than my story. He is unchanging, loving, and magnificent. This reality encourages joyfulness when happiness may be harder to come by.

Where do you see joy this advent season?

Continue in this Advent series: Waiting in Love

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