This year has been quite a ride. I’ve written about my struggle with anxiety and about some of the peopleI’ve lost. With all the heartache in this crazy world, I want to write something joyful this Christmas season. Something that brings you peace and hope.
Just bear with me. I’ll get there.
Last night I was talking to a longtime friend about some tough subjects—the crap that’s happened in life. In mid-sentence, I had a flashback to when our group of friends was young, happy, in love, full of hope. It hurt so much to look back for a moment. To think about the hopes dashed in the past 15 years.
This morning, I was overcome by a sudden longing to see my friend Laurie and I just started bawling. I had an ugly cry, as Laurie would have called it. We may not have seen each other much in the last couple years of her life, but it’s quite a different thing to know I’ll never see her again earth side.
Over the past five months, my anxiety has been much better. Part of that victory comes from leaning on Christ for peace and joy. Some of it comes from managing it with constant redirection of my thoughts.
This is my brain’s refrain: No, don’t go there, Alison. That’s not happening. It’s not your cross right now. Don’t pick it up.
It can be exhausting.
I think the improvement is partly due to storing up sunshine during the summer months. Now that’s starting to wane. Taking Vitamin D supplements isn’t the same as absorbing it through my skin. I can feel the struggle more now that the sun goes down earlier and I’m not outside as much.
But perhaps the greatest growth comes from choosing joy over fear.
Ann Voskamp says, “All fear is but the notion that God’s love ends.”
It’s true. When I think about Laurie’s family or about our friends who lost their daughter this year, I can’t imagine bearing that kind of pain. But deep in my heart I know God’s love never ends. It never fails. My own life story reminds me He’s been there in the midst of my darkest night, my deepest pain.
If I worry about losing someone, or my marriage failing, or illness striking us, how does that help those already suffering? I can have empathy for them, but when it morphs into worry and fear, I’ve crossed a line. I’ve begun trying to control my future instead of trusting God to lead me through it. Instead of embracing all the good things He’s given me today.
So I’m choosing joy now. I’m choosing to smile about the blessings He’s poured out on me in His love and grace.
Photo Credit: April Olivia Roskos
Let me share a few of them with you . . .
A three-year-old girly girl filled with wonder and words.
An active boy whose creativity blows me away.
A leggy tween sharing her problems with me. Me!
Knowing when to stop what I’m doing, shut up, listen, and offer a hug.
A husband who works hard every day . . . and then comes home (often to a cranky wife and kids).
Putting up a real Christmas tree and decorating it—all five of us, together.
How are you choosing joy this advent season?