“Joy is the serious business of heaven.”
-C. S. Lewis.
Are you approaching the New Year with a limp in your spirit and sorrow shadowed joy? Me too.
JOY is my word for the year. Silly me, I expected hoped this year to be JOYFUL. But sorrow shadowed joy.
Most years, I share my chosen word with friends and discuss it throughout the year. But the unrelenting hardship of 2021 tried to overshadow my joy. Instead of a year of glee, confetti, and gold polka-dots. All items remind me of a reason to celebrate.
The tears of sorrow we shed now sweeten the future moments of joy.
James writes, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt” (James 1:2-6, NIV).
Oh, how easy is it to gloss over the phrases “testing of your faith” when our teenagers are testing our patience. How quick we are to quit praying and asking God’s help when we should “let perseverance finish its work.”
I know I am not alone in this place of pain and sorrow. Let’s clink our mugs together as we recognize we are not alone.
5 Ways to Find Joy Every Day:
- Start each day in the positive. We live in a culture that never has enough-we are constantly in the negative. But what if we changed our routine to allow ourselves enough sleep, wake up earlier than necessary to center our mind, and savor an extra cup of liquid mercy (aka coffee)? We can do this at home or in the car before heading into the office.
- Surround yourself with reasons to smile. Throughout your home and office, incorporate your favorite things, photograph, a poster of a future destination location, favorite coffee mug, candle, etc.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Who we spend time with directly affects our frame of mind. Take inventory of those around you. Do these speak life and encouragement to you or bring you down? Make changes to surround yourself with positive people.
- Appreciate the small things. Rather than allowing small things to go unnoticed, what if we made it a habit to celebrate the small things in life? This is a habit I practice each morning during my coffee time and devotions. I note the little things I’m thankful for (text from a friend at the right time or an invitation to walk with my neighbor).
- Rediscover abandoned hobbies or learn something new. Each of us has a creative side. Some people knit or sew, while others play an instrument or paint. Perhaps your creative outlet is baking or engine repair. Either way, by getting in touch with your creative side, you’ll discover untapped joy.
Facing trials and suffering is serious business! Scripture reminds us to consider it pure joy because our faith will produce perseverance, maturity, and wisdom. I’m not sugar-coating circumstances, it’s hard. But on those days when choosing to see the joy amidst the pain seems impossible, dig in and find joy.
No matter what you’re facing, you are not alone.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV)
More articles about Joy:
How to Expose Shadowed Joy | Avoiding the Comparison Trap |Joy is the Serious Business of Heaven |
Destination Hope: A Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart
The hit that knocks you down is the one you didn’t see coming, but you don’t have to stay there.
Destination Hope helps women regain their faith and their footing after being knocked off course by unexpected events.
Link arms with us as we journey together toward Hope. Destination Hope: A Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, Target, and Walmart. com.
© 2021 April Dawn White.com
Managing Grief During the Holidays is a conversation deserving attention. For many, Thanksgiving and Christmas are happy times but difficult for those who grieving a loss. Loss has many forms; the death of a loved one, the dissolved dream, empty arms, or an unexpected diagnosis. Our lives fall apart in different ways.
Acknowledge holidays will be different.
“One of the most important things to do when you are navigating a loss–and there are several kinds of losses, it’s not just the death of a loved one–is to acknowledge that these holidays will be different,” says teacher, widow, and author Marilyn Nutter. For example, if there is a job loss, finances will be affected. An empty chair will emphasize the loss of a loved one.
Adjust and Express Your Expectations
People will try to make things the same as before, but it’s different. Circumstances and people are now different and so will be this holiday. Know it’s going to be different and adjust your expectations. Ask yourself, what do I think the holidays will be like this year? How do I want to celebrate the holiday in the most loving way to myself and to God?
Marilyn is a facilitator at Grief support. As the holidays approach, she encourages grievers to voice their expectations to friends and family. Sometimes, people want to carry on the tradition exactly as before. However, if the tradition includes travel, they may not want to. The idea of packing and traveling might be too overwhelming during this season. Friends and family are not mind readers, so it is important to express this reality that this holiday will be different and share your thoughts and expectations with others.
Recognize the Range of Emotions
Each person is different and will handle loss differently. Emotions, such as anger and disappointment, will change throughout the day and the season. The key to navigating loss this Thanksgiving and Christmas is to recognize emotions will vary throughout the season and throughout each day.
I remember the first year of my illness, telling my eleven-year-old daughter I didn’t feel like celebrating. With a deep sigh, I said, “I cannot do this. I want to skip Thanksgiving and Christmas and go straight to January.” My daughter put on her eleven-year-old sassy pants and, with hands-on-hips, she demanded, “No mom! In this house, we celebrate Jesus! We are going to celebrate the birth of Christ and we are going to be thankful!”
My daughter was right. We didn’t put up all the decorations as in years before. But I managed to set out some pumpkins and mums for Thanksgiving and we decorated the Christmas tree. It wasn’t the same as in previous years and neither was I. Anger, disappointment, and uncertainty loomed at every corner.
Remember Others Grieve Differently
Chances are during the holiday season; you will encounter someone whose grief looks different from your own. Grief is as unique as our fingerprints, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. This includes our children. Keep in mind others are grieving the loss of that person too, and they may grieve differently than you. In our interview with Family Life Radio, Martha accurately describes it as a “constellation of reactions.”
Offer Practical Help
If someone we love is grieving this Thanksgiving and Christmas, the best way to know how to help is to ask. Start by telling your loved one…
“I recognize this is going to be a hard season for you, but I want to know what can I do? What’s going to be the most beneficial to you?”
Allow that person to answer for themselves. If they don’t answer, it’s possible they are dealing with so many decisions they have “decision paralysis.” Basic decisions are too much because the grieving loved one is so overwhelmed.
In this case, I recommend you make these suggestions. “I would like to help you by…
- Wrapping or mailing packages
- Grocery shopping for you
- Addressing your Christmas cards
- Bringing down your Christmas decorations down from the attic”
This topic is close to my heart. In the second half of this year, I’ve attended six funerals (three of which we family members). I know I am not alone in my grief. I know what it is like to not have the strength or capacity for phony people, forced smiles, and hoopla. Sound familiar?
Earlier this month we had the opportunity to talk with Martha Manikas-Foster at @familylifenypa radio.🎧(Listen to the podcast here) We discussed the topic of managing grief during the holidays which is also discussed in our new book, Destination Hope a Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart.
Hope is the key focus of our book and the encouragement we want to share. When loss threatens to topple our world, God remains constant.
Hugs & Hope,
April Dawn White
💌 If the message comforts you today, would you please share this Hope with others.
Images courtesy of Canva and Erica Marsland Huynh Unsplash
© 2021 April Dawn White
Destination Hope a Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart is available online at Amazon, Books a Million, Barnes & Noble, and Christianbook.com