Oh! Think of the possibility if we experience the awe and wonder of Christmas through the eyes of a child. What is it that draws us close to children during the anticipation of what we know as the Advent season? Children are so full of what our hearts should desire. As adults, we can become apathetic to the wonder. We often begin to take for granted parts of this season – the lights, decorations, gifts, events, preparations. We get caught up in the responsibilities and the endless to-do’s that have commonly come to be known as adulting. As we get consumed and a bit overwhelmed by the expectations, we often forget what we need to do. It’s rather simple. We need to seek a heart of joy: the Lord’s JOY. Nehemiah 8:10 states, “Then he said unto them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink the sweet, and send portions unto those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy unto our Lord; neither be ye sorry, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
The joy of the Lord is our strength. Not that the joy of the Lord is our to-do, or even the Joy of the Lord is our peace. The joy from this holiday season is best seen through the eyes of a child.
A child can see joy in myriad ways. Children see joy and the wonder in the simplicity of lights. I remember a tradition that Shane and I started with our girls when they were little. We would drive around our own neighborhood to see the Christmas lights. Often, we could designate a specific night to go out to eat and then drive to see the decorations. As the girls got older and the many obligations of busy schedules grew, the time that was available to plan these evenings became scarce. Therefore, looking at the Christmas lights began to be not about one night that we would try to drive and see all of them, but looking for them as we drove from our various activities – basically seeing the lights as we do life. Perhaps it was driving past a house newly decorated, forcing us to find joy and beauty in the now. It is so interesting to listen to children as they describe the homes that they consider beautiful. Elaborate does not necessarily mean beautiful in the eyes of a child. I’ve experienced my children as they love the extremely simple. I’ve also learned that I can’t get frustrated that the seasons of looking for lights change. I would love to go back to when all three girls were younger and we could make an entire evening of driving and seeking lights. In the current season, we have to look for lights as we move from one place to another. We have to find wonder and joy as we go! That may mean looking for lights on the way from the airport to our home. Or it could mean seeing the beauty and simplicity of a single light in a window. Joy and wonder are not earned; they are discovered when we peel away the busyness and open our hearts as we make our way through this season.
How do we experience daily seeing joy in the Advent season in such a renewing way? How can we slow down and multiply our minutes when it seems the world wants to steal them? We can approach the stress, chaos, and busyness of what we often experience with a heart that is open to the beauty and joy in our everydayness. If we are not careful, the priority of the numerous tasks can hurry us past the opportunities to experience joy. Consider looking for small achievements of awe and wonder. Look for Jesus, the light of the world, to show up in small, unexpected ways. Pull out a small nativity. Enjoy it without seeing the endless number of tasks that accompany all of the rest of your decorations. After all, the nativity only needs three pieces (Mary, Joseph and Jesus), and only an audience of one – you. Merry Christmas.