When joy overwhelms

... those who plan peace have joy
      ~Proverbs 12:20b

Joy is peace dancing. Peace is joy at rest.

Frederick brotherton Meyer

So we just finished Thanksgiving and now we find ourselves barreling headfirst into Christmas.

And that used to be my favorite time of year.

So much so, that I started listening to Christmas carols in July. Plans for baking and decorating would begin in September, and all through the year, I would be working on the perfect video projects to surprise my family with on Christmas Eve.

Then ten years ago, my beautiful mother passed away in the middle of December, in the middle of the season that’s supposed to be so joyful.

And Christmas was no longer the same. Christmas carols might as well have been funeral dirges. Baking and decorating brought memories that hurt and my heart was just too broken to embark on any special projects.

Then 7 years ago, my sweet daddy who loved Christmas trees and Christmas lights, joined Momma in heaven. There was a hole in the season that just couldn’t be patched.

When you add that to the everyday difficulties of life, well, quite honestly, sometimes I’d like to be a bear and just hibernate through the whole winter.

Unfortunately, that’s not an option.

The hardest part is all the joy that is out there. You see it. You hear it, and it reminds you that your own level of joy is severely lacking, which only seems to deplete it even more.

Take the bell ringers standing at the entrance of the grocery stores. Those bells. Those frustratingly happily resounding bells annoying with their jingling cacophony.

It’s too much. The sound just seems to break my fragile heart even more.

But a couple of years ago, I made a discovery. I had an epiphany.

While cleaning out my car, my husband discovered some jingle bells under the seat. These 4 or 5 bells came with the car when we bought it used because they were muffled under the passenger seat, I had never noticed them. Now they were in the center console cup holder where they were free to roll around with each turn, creating the lightest, softest, most spirit pleasing jingle I had heard in a long time.

At the time I was dealing with lots of unhappy, joy stealing trials in my life, but when I was in my car, each turn with it’s minimalist jingling soundtrack made me smile. I had long since turned off the radio since I was being bombarded with by Christmas carols when I least expected them. But this quiet jingle, I could handle it. I even liked it.

The only way I can explain it is like this: When cooking and the recipe calls for a tablespoon of water, you hold the spoon under the faucet and if the water can come out with too much pressure, it deflects off and shoots out of the spoon, usually onto your shirt, leaving you wet and the spoon just as empty as before you turned the water on in the first place. Yet, if you only turn the water on to a trickle, the spoon handles it easily and fills up.

That’s where I am. I need the trickle of joy, not the explosion of joy. I need to create new memories while holding onto the old ones.

This is the season of peace and joy. And for some, the joy comes easily and is the focus. That’s how it used to be for me. But right now, the peace part sounds pretty good.

And I’m pretty sure that where there is peace, joy will follow.

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