It’s hard to look at a Christmas tree full of lights without feeling at least a little bit cheery. Every year our tree goes up, and you’ll find me sitting in the room until that little timer makes it go off every night.
Mom thought she’d pull a fast one on me this year and make the timer shut off at 9:15 every night… Well, that wasn’t flying with me. It wasn’t long enough for me to sit and read and just stare at it, so one night I decided I’d turn the tree back on by turning the little timer until it came on, then just turning it til it went off when I was done. Well little did I know, I’d messed the timer up when I did that and mom asked why the tree was coming on after it was dark out when it normally came on before 5. Ooooops. Guess I just like the tree too much.
Anyways, back to the lights. There’s something about them that just bring so much joy to my heart. It’s like I sit here and stare at the tree and I’m awestruck at how incredible life is. How this season especially is a time to look around and find joy in every moment. If you’re reading this, then you’re alive. You’re breathing. You’re here. Life is hard, it’s messy, and complicated, and things happen that we don’t want to. It’s finding joy in the happy moments, but it’s also learning to find joy in those not so happy moments. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned in 2016 is to continue to find joy, even when it gets tough.
I started off the year with a trip to California to see some of my friends, so how could I not be joyful in that? The week after that I moved to Michigan for work for a few months, a place I’d always loved and had friends, so again, why wouldn’t I be happy?
It was easy in those moments to look around at my life and just be thankful.. for the beautiful landscapes, for family, for friends, for a job, for food, for everything. But what about when the tough times hit? Did I really seem as joyful then? How’d I react when the smiles turned to tears and things happened that I hadn’t expected or experienced before?
When my grandpa became sick while I was gone and passed away, when I had a 101 temperature for over 3 weeks and couldn’t eat or do anything, when I unexpectedly had to deal with someone being out of my life, when I didn’t get a job I wanted, when I didn’t feel good enough and I compared myself to other people. There were a lot of happy moments but there were also a lot of difficult moments.
How many times did I want to just curl up in a ball and not deal with it? How many times did I question God why this and that would happen, times that I didn’t understand, yet knew that God’s plan was happening as it should and for a reason. When it’s hardest to pray is when I know I need it the most, and during those tough times, that’s when I learned to lean on Him the most.
I tried changing my perspective when it got hard. I knew how joyful I was when times were good, but could I maintain that same feeling when times got hard? I sure could, and it’s what got me through the hard times this year threw at me.
You want to know something? We’re all going to have tough times. Every single one of us. We live in a broken world. People can be cruel and mean and will try to destroy your happiness if you let them. We let people get in our minds, we let their opinions affect our own attitudes.
It’s how we take those tough times and continue on. No matter what your situation, I just want you to know and to always remember…
---Where you are now, you are for a reason. It might be temporary, it might be forever. You might be happy, you might be sad and lost. Wherever you’re at in your life journey, you’re where you’re supposed to be. You are loved. You are enough. You’re more than enough, and in this one moment that it’s taking you to read this, there’s a God that loves you more than any other individual in the world ever could love you in a lifetime. Yes.. in just ONE MOMENT. He loves you that much. Whenever you’re feeling alone, He’s there. He’ll listen to you any moment of the day. Whenever you’re feeling broken, not good enough, no matter what you’re feeling—He thinks you’re incredible. You’re smart, you’re talented, you’re beautiful inside and out. Whenever you start to feel down, just remember and find joy in all of that truth.
I’ll fill you in on a little secret. If you need a mood booster, sit in a room full of Christmas lights, or by your tree, or go drive around and look at lights. I’ve found that no matter how I’m feeling, the lights remind me that everyday is a new day- a new opportunity, bright and fresh and no matter what we’re going through, we can start going about it with new perspectives, new attitudes, new hopes and bring light to others no matter the situations.