Every season has its charms. The flowering trees and new warmth of spring. The carefree, lemonade-sipping dog days of summer. The crisp fall air, perfect for walks in brilliantly-colored leaves. And then the Christmas season, where the dark comes sooner and the days grow colder, yet all over the world people put up lights and bring evergreens inside and celebrate God sending Hope into the world.
The same goes for life, too. Sometimes there are seasons when the sun shines bright and everything is springing up new and beautiful. In some seasons we just sit back and coast along, enjoying seeing the results of our labor growing strong around us. Some seasons are harvest seasons, where we finally get to see all our hard work begin to pay off.
And then some seasons are Christmas seasons, when the cold wind bites through us and the days are short and the night closes in–but when we can choose to hang shining lights in the night and embrace the evergreen nature of Christ’s abundance and celebrate the hope we have because of Jesus’s birth.
This season is a true Christmas season for me and mine. In some ways, the dark comes early and winter bites deep. I’m overwhelmed and struggling to get two start-up businesses off the ground. People I love dearly refuse to be reconciled or are struggling with mental illness and depression. An invasion of bedbugs has taken over my fiance’s apartment (turns out they’re taking the U.S. by storm). And just last week, my fiance went into work at his job of 5+ years and was told he no longer had a job. Three months before our wedding.
If I let myself dwell on it, life can look pretty dark and discouraging right now. But, it’s also Christmas. And Christmas means celebrating the gifts God has given us, most notably the gift of hope in Christ and eternal life with Him.
So that night, when I held my fiance and we watched our earthly hopes of getting a better apartment for him, getting insurance before mine runs out, having money for a honeymoon, and more fall out from beneath us, we prayed together, as we do every night, and rejoiced in the Hope who came into our world after 400 years of silent dark. And we chose to rejoice in the gifts we’ve been given.
Health. Family. Friends. Each other. Talents. Education. Church. Freedom. My cousin’s toddler giggles. No more night shift. Late nights at Chick-Fil-A with new friends. New (much needed) clothes for Christmas. A fragrant fir Christmas tree. The means to buy gifts for others who are struggling.
Finding joy in every season isn’t about pretending that a season isn’t hard, or dark, or cold. It’s about choosing to bring the evergreen inside, choosing to hang up the lights, choosing to give to others with joy and celebrate the gifts we’ve been given with joy and to embrace this season with joy. It’s about choosing to celebrate the good gifts even more because of the hard times, not letting the hard times steal our joy.
So this Christmas I’m putting up greenery and lights, baking gingerbread cookies for others to enjoy, picking out (or making) presents for those I love, and gleefully celebrating every gift that comes my way, great and small. And somehow, each little choice to rejoice is another bright speck shining in the dark, cold night sky, pointing the way to the reason we all rejoice.
“Behold! I bring you good tidings of great joy that will be to all the people! Today, in the city of David, a savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord…And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Luke 2:11, Isaiah 9:6