We can choose to be joyful even when we are celebrating the holidays alone.
Many of us will not travel to see friends and relatives this holiday season due to the pandemic.
Some of us ordered packages online to avoid the crowds. That was actually awesome.
But the ability to truly surprise a family member is gone due to package delivery notifications and public wish lists.
I know from experience that I can be surrounded by many people and still be lonely while celebrating the holidays.
But one of my true joys of the season was my ability to choose when we would celebrate Christmas with friends and family.
Some of you were excited by the thought of choosing when to leave a family gathering. You know who you are.
In a year where so many of our choices are restricted, where you may be celebrating holidays alone, we still can make a compelling choice.
WE CAN CHOOSE TO BE JOYFUL.
Joy is a choice.
I am always surprised by the back story of the most joyful people I meet. I expect that they have had a wonderful life devoid of hardship and loss and that no one has hurt or opposed them. But I often find out that is not the case.
As they share their life story, I am amazed at the extent of their suffering.
Without thinking, I will ask how they can be so joyful. Their answer is always that joy is a choice.
I remember being unemployed at Christmas with an eight-month-old baby. I did not feel like celebrating, and I felt guilty for every moment, not dedicated to securing a new job.
I did not feel joy was a choice for me. All of my options felt unpleasant and difficult. Feeling sorry for myself was easy. I wish that someone had given me a shake and reminded me that I could have chosen joy.
Joyful people understand that they have a choice. That choice is how they will respond to difficult circumstances and people.
When we choose to be joyful, hope rises and we we see the promise of a new day.
We realize that our circumstances, good and bad, are often temporary.
That season of unemployment was intense but a relatively short-lived period of my life.
I found work and discovered that it is impossible to remain joyless in the presence of a little boy and a loving wife. I began to experience joy and hope again.
Soon we added a lovely daughter to our family. Ironically, our economic situation got worse right before her birth.
But this time, I understood that joy was a reasonable choice. This time I was able to focus on what I had instead of what I was missing.
Joyful people focus on what they have instead of what we are missing.
When we choose to be joyful, we bring joy to others, and our joy increases.
Joyful people are impactful. They affect everyone they come in contact with. Their joy is contagious. They bring joy to others.
Joyful people are magnetic. People are instinctively drawn to them like a moth to a flame.
It must be awesome to walk into a room, and everyone brightens up because you showed up. I want to be that person, wouldn’t you?
Joyful people are generous with their resources. They share their time, talents, and money with those who are in need. Somehow, their generosity increases their joy.
Joy is a choice that you can still make regardless of circumstances or the actions of others.
CALL TO ACTION
You may be in a circumstance or a situation that you did not make and cannot easily change, and the feeling of powerlessness may be overwhelming.
But you have a choice in how you will respond to it. How can you choose to be joyful this week?
I choose a joy that is based on the good news that Jesus Christ was born.
Kay Warren says that “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12.