By Major Beth Desplancke
Every morning when I walk into Territorial Headquarters to begin my workday, I am greeted with these words: “Find Joy.”
What a great reminder as I start each day. No matter what the day holds -meetings to attend, emails to read, reports to generate, people to talk to -whatever I encounter that day, I need to find joy in all that I do. I am going to be honest; some days it is easy to find joy in what I am doing, and other days, not so much.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so the Christmas song proclaims, but often during this season of rejoicing, that isn’t always true. With all the holiday hustle and season stress, comes the blues of busyness and instead of being filled with joy, our hearts are more pulled toward the words of Ebenezer Scrooge, “Bah Humbug!”
Christmas is the time when we celebrate the birth of our Savior. The birth of our Savior isn’t just joy but GREAT joy! The angel declared to the shepherds on the night Jesus was born:
Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:10-11
The shepherds heard this announcement of a baby being born that will bring great joy to everyone, and of course they must go and see for themselves. They must consciously choose to leave their routine and go and find this baby that would bring great joy to all. After seeing the baby, they leave and must share their joy with others. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told (Luke 2:20).
Later, when the Wise Men were searching for the King of the Jews, they followed a star that led them to Jerusalem, and an encounter with King Herod. They learn of a prophecy that declares this king would be born in Bethlehem. After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where they child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed (Matthew 2:9-10).
We all know that the Christmas season is busy: Christmas shopping, gift wrapping, kettles, nursing home visitations, food drives, Angel trees, preparing toys and food for families in need, parties, baking, decorating, cooking holiday dinners… the list is endless. In all the busyness, we can miss the opportunities to find joy.
How do you find joy in it all? It is a matter of choice! The shepherds and the wise men had to consciously seek out and find the joy. Yes, the calendar is full, and there are lots of activities taking place. Yes, some things are non-negotiable and must be done, but other things we can choose to say yes or no to.
Finding joy might mean saying no to something so you can have one evening at home a week, where you sit down with the family and enjoy a home-cooked meal or spend the evening baking or watching a Christmas movie.
Finding joy could mean saying no to buying things on credit and only spending what you can afford.
Finding joy may mean driving home the long way after a busy day just so you can enjoy the lights of a beautifully decorated neighborhood.
In the busyness of the season, I must plan joy breaks once a week. I usually enjoy iced drinks (which I normally consume faster) but I find joy going to a coffee shop, ordering a hot drink and sitting at a table and savoring each sip. As I slow down, I listen to some of my favorite Christmas carols, or simply enjoy reading a book for fun. After a chapter or two, or after I finished my hot drink, my joy is restored, and I am ready to face the rest of the activities and things that must be done.
In addition to the once-a-week joy breaks, when I find my attitude is in need of an adjustment, and I am not able to find joy in the moment, I close my office door and listen to a favorite Christmas Carol that brings a smile to my face. One of my favorites (I think the video is what makes me smile) is Born is the King (It’s Christmas) by Hillsong Worship. Another favorite of mine (not a Christmas song but is sure to put a smile on your face) is Joy by For King and Country.
In all of the busyness of this season, may we seek out and find the joy that comes through a child’s smile, a thank you for your service, or baking homemade goodies to bless someone else. Challenge yourself to find joy in each day. This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24 NLT).
May you have a joyous Christmas and a joy-filled New Year!