The Gift of Joy

As I babysat 2 small children last night (6 and 2 years old), I received the greatest gift. We were watching an episode of “Paw Patrol,” an interesting show about a team of puppies saving their town from various issues, when Conner (the 6 year old) got up. As the puppies were repairing Santa’s sleigh so that Christmas wouldn’t be ruined for the whole world because of a vicious blizzard, Conner got so excited he just couldn’t sit anymore. He proceeded to jump around the living room and say, “sometimes I just get so excited that I can’t sit still anymore!” While I laughed at first, I then had to think. When was the last time I was so excited about anything that I couldn’t sit down? Yes, I’ve been excited about things recently. I am excited for a break. I am excited to have successfully completed the business block. I am excited that my whole family will be together for Christmas. I am excited for so many of the things coming up in the next semester. But am I excited enough that I can’t sit?

So why is that? I have more than enough reason to be filled with joy this season. I think it comes down to choice. Unfortunately, I haven’t been very good about choosing joy. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5 to “rejoice always, pray continually, [and] give thanks in all circumstances.” That’s pretty clear. And in a time where there is so much happening in the world – both good and bad, exciting and scary, delightful and difficult – it is our responsibility to take responsibility. From my understanding of the Gospel, we are called to set the example. The example of sharing love, the example of extending grace, and, yes, the example of choosing joy. I am not suggesting that this is an easy task. On the contrary, I fully believe this to be difficult and even over our heads as human beings. But it’s in those spaces that God does the most amazing things. Just as I tell my youth group every week, sometimes the right thing is not the easy thing, but that’s why faith makes the difference.

So I challenge you, just as I challenge myself this season. Choose joy. Be a kid again. And in the times where you feel like you don’t have any more to give, let go and invite God to take over. But be prepared, because big things may just happen. Merry Christmas!

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