Glimpses of a Greater Joy

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By: Magen Thetford

Last December 26th, a day my husband and I usually love dearly, was spent in tears. I was exhausted. I had run myself into the ground trying to do everything, be everything, host everything and buy everything. I wanted the Christmas season to be full of magic and wonder, and joy for my family. Don’t get me wrong, it was incredibly special, but it came at the cost of embracing the true beauty of the season.

I’ve always felt a deep longing to find so much joy in Christmas. You’ve supposed it too, right? From a little girl to now, something in me wants to experience that extra something special each year, and I often go racing with enormous expectations to find it.

We pack our schedules so tightly with parties, gift exchanges, special events and programs, Christmas cards, family traditions, eating decadent meals, and so on, trying to grasp those moments of deep satisfaction.

The trouble is that these beautiful, fun things were never meant to fulfill that longing in our hearts. At best, they can only give us a glimpse of a greater joy available to us if we would sit long enough in Jesus’ presence to experience it.

Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Please don’t miss that. Reread that verse over and over until the truth of it sets in. His way is the path to life. He is the location of the fullness of joy. He is where we experience pleasures forever. He was never meant to be the background music to our holiday season.

Here are a few questions I’m finding helpful to process my expectations. What is the reason I go so hard? Am I people-pleasing? Am I avoiding feeling the loss or pain that this season can bring? Am I gaining my identity from an “I can do it all” attitude? What is the most important takeaway I want my family to remember after it’s over? Is that what I’m magnifying, or am I sending mixed signals about the meaning of Christmas? If we don’t start asking ourselves questions like these, we could end up crying from exhaustion on the 26th of December all over again.

“Let every heart prepare Him room” are the familiar words to “Joy to the World.” Are you preparing room for Him in your home and on your schedule? He is the only One who brings that deeper satisfaction. Jesus’ birth, the very thing we celebrate in this season, was so simple and yet so full of true joy and wonder. Our’s can be too.