This week in the advent calendar, we are focused on Joy. This time last year, I wrote a blog about the death of Ian’s mom who died on the third Sunday of Advent (which just so happened to also be the week of Joy last year). Joy was hard to find at that time, as Christmas crept closer and our arms were heavy from carrying an unimaginable grief. Much has changed. Charlotte is older and growing, the grief from the death of Ian’s mom is still present although it feels less heavy, and Covid has made progressions in terms of vaccinations and less restrictions – to name a few things. However, I find myself still searching for joy this week with somewhat of a heavy heart.
This time of year can be really difficult for so many reasons. Many folks in our community are feeling the sadness that comes with being estranged from family. We are having a memorial today to remember all of our friends that died during the Pandemic. Covid still lingers, although it is always changing. There are hard conversations to be had. There are many reasons that this time of year can feel so dark, even though Christmas songs ring out loudly and lights blare from trees and homes.
On Sunday, Erinn spoke about Joy. She talked about how joy is not just an emotion to feel or not to feel. It can be. But in terms of Advent, Joy is knowing that God is near. Jesus is coming. These times are literally quite dark (does anyone else feel overwhelmed knowing the sun sets at 4:30?). But we can experience Joy in knowing that Jesus is coming soon and He is bringing the light. That change in perspective does not change circumstance in things that are heavy. But for me, it was enough to provide a new mindset and some hope. There is heaviness, and that is okay. There is also Joy in knowing our Saviour is coming and that He knows what it is like to be vulnerable.
Knowing this, I can choose joy. Our friend Dan wrote a song that we often sing at The Dale. It goes, “Choosing joy — to You I run
Choosing joy — for what’s to come
Choosing joy — this I do
Just because I love You”
Sometimes I really need to choose joy, the emotion. I can see it in my daughter when she visits The Dale like she did this past Sunday and hugged every single person outside. I can feel it when we finally have a space to come together to grieve our friends in a collective way, whatever that looks like for each person. I can sense it when my team gathers on a Monday to check in and pray together. I can feel it in the love I have for Ian that we have worked so hard for over this past year. There are so many things.
I know this time is chalked with loud happy music, bright lights, gifts and a sense of urgency. I know what it’s like to find excitement in that and for it to also feel unreal and fake when your hands and heart feel grief, much like mine did last year at this time. And I know, for me, that it helps to know the true meaning of Joy in this season, that Jesus is near. We only have to wait a little longer.
Peace to you as we wait.
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