This is the notoriously most stressful, and for many, most depressing season of the year. The pressure to buy that best gift, to create that perfect evening or morning for our loved ones, the urge to spend, to do, to plan … Then there’s’ the sting of unmet expectations or painful memories. In all that mess and stress, is it possible to experience the joy of Christmas? According to my guest, Carole Brown, yes, but it might take some paring down and refocusing.
Where’s the Joy? by Carole Brown
My calendar—specifically December—said it was full and groaning under the weight of too many things to do and not enough time.
Shopping, Christmas programs, dinners, and decorating. I couldn’t fit anything else in. When had Christmas become so busy?
I had always loved Christmas and all that went with it but my emotions were stretched with stress and worry. I was being drained of all the joy of the season. The real meaning of Christmas.
Here’s how the verse spoke to me:
- Fear not. Don’t be afraid to celebrate Christ’s birth the way God desires you.
- Good tidings. What better news in all the world than when God sent his beloved son to earth for us? Indeed, The news is great tidings.
- Great Joy. Christmas isn’t about how much we spend, or if every cookie variety gets into your jars, or even how many fun and well meaning programs you attend. It’s about Jesus and the real joy His coming brought.
- All people. This celebration is for everyone. It’s a period to remember, share, love and celebrate the most wonderful gift in the world—Jesus.
In all the busyness of the season, in all my striving to cram everything that seemed important into our lives, in all my misguided notions that we’d “miss” something, I’d forgotten the most valuable item. Through my own good intentions, I’d robbed myself of the joy of the season.
Until one Christmas when I realized it all was too much and reevaluated what the season was about—that year opened my eyes to what really mattered.
Today, I pick and choose. The rest? Evaluation is easy when using the real reason for the season as the measuring stick.
- I budget gifts on what I want to spend each year.
- I plan my holiday meals ahead of time.
- I do my favorite Christmas decorations and leave it at that.
- I keep track of what events we’d like to attend and/or participate in and keep a tight rein on it.
However you celebrate the season, remember: it’s not about the busyness. It’s about Jesus. Only when we surrender ourselves to Christ, will the Spirit’s gifts be available. What are some of these gifts to a heart surrendered to God?
- Peace that passes understanding. Trials, misunderstandings, disappointment and death does not affect the peace dwelling in a Christian’s heart.
- Love that forgives, that never fails, that is kind and humble and never gives up—priceless and available to God’s children. (I Corinthians 13)
- Joy that goes deeper than happiness, and only comes because of faith in the Redeemer. (Galatians 5:22)
Remember, works can not produce the fruits of the Spirit. Surrender, trust in our Savior, studying His Word, and talking with Him brings peace, love and joy. With those, we have the assurance that God is with us and working out His divine plan in our lives, and that knowledge makes it easier to focus on what truly matters and purge the rest.
Enjoy the season. Spend time with family and friends, but most of all, celebrate His birth. We have a reason to do so. God’s angel declared it to all mankind: JOY to the world!
Let’s talk about this! What resonated most with you as you read Carole’s post? Do you plan to imitate anything she’s done in her efforts to simplify her Christmas? What are some things you’ve done to reduce your stress and focus on Christ? Share your thoughts here or in the comments below.
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An author of ten books, Carole loves to weave suspense, romance and whimsy into her books. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. They enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?
Connect with her:
On her personal blog
On her Amazon Author Page
And follow her on Twitter
Make sure to check out her latest book, A Flute in the Willows:
She has two loves—her skating and Jerry, her husband. But when he returns home looking like a skeleton trying to return to life, she’s scared. What happened in Germany to change a man so much? Has another woman captured his heart?
Jerry has vowed to let Josie live her own glamorous life…especially after what happened in Germany. But when his wife’s life is threatened, Jerry realizes he can’t stand by and do nothing. Jerry has to risk all for the very soul and life of himself—Josie.
These two damaged, rebellious people learn the hard way that leaning on God instead of their own selves and abilities is the only true way to love and happiness.
Description of protagonists:
Josephine Rayner Patterson, the second sister, is quite different from her older sister. She’s athletic and training for the Olympics once it’s resumed after the war, plays the flute, a little uncaring about her looks and is quite rebellious.
Jerry Patterson, dark, sardonic, sensitive and smart, he despises his overbearing, condescending and wealthy father and joins the service. Because of his sharp senses, he’s trained in subversion for the military and ends overseas in Germany but will the mistakes he makes while there cripple his and Josie’s lives forever?