Christmas is almost here- the best time of year. As this time approaches, we may find ourselves reflecting and analyzing our lives and seeing what makes us happy. This brings us joy, but for many, it can bring sadness as we cannot reach our own expectations of joy. We cannot see what there is to be happy about.
Stresses of money, family problems – you name it – overwhelm the little joys. But I am here to call you on and give you a dose of perspective as the best time of year approaches. Circumstances aren’t what make you happy.
By many standards, I don’t have very much to be joyful about. The story starts when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in October after a month of weird symptoms. MS is a disease where your immune system attacks your nervous system. My MS has decided attack not just my brain, but my spinal cord as well – the part which controls function in my body, especially my legs. From the diagnosis stemmed quite a journey! Many tests, much loss of normal everyday abilities, many days in the hospital where I experienced more pain than I have in my life. Physically I was a wreck. I could not feel a large part of the left side of my body which resulted in a loss of functionality. Here I was, a young woman in her early 20’s, and I couldn’t walk normally, I was falling, I couldn’t even hold my baby. Forget about riding my horse or even going for a walk with my husband… I was a burden, it seemed. What did I have to be joyful about?
The world expects me to be miserable. But I am the happiest I have ever been. This cross is perfect for me. I am grateful for it. My joy does not come from my circumstances, joy comes from the knowledge that I am loved and not meant for this world. So what is 80 years of MS in the long run? Nothing compared to eternity!
Right now my body is working, but the uncertainty and the inability to plan my life has made me grateful for the little things that I have in the past overlooked. MS has made me focus on the REAL causes of my joy. I am loved by my husband, by my daughter and family. I love every ride I get on my horse, I am grateful to hold my daughter, I am grateful to laugh with my family. I am loved by my God. What else do I really need? These days have been some of ths happiest of my life. I have loved every minute of this cross. It was chosen by my loving God just for me. I’d be lying if I said this was easy, but I am so grateful for it.
My grandma has been the perfect example of this joy for me. A couple of months ago her heart valve gave and blood was flowing into her lungs. As she was being wheeled away to the operating room, my mom and dad caught up to her in the hallway. The nurse stopped the gurney and my grandma looked at my mom and said with a smile, “Well, I’m going to see you in an hour, or God in an hour.” This is how I wish to live my life every day; any suffering can be managed with this perspective.
She has helped me to realize what a blessing my suffering is. I would never be able to have the knowledge of what life is for, if I did not know suffering and see her love and joy despite it. In addition to my parents, she and her example is why I am joyful when people expect me not to be.
What a beautiful life we have to know love! Do not look for joy in your circumstances, look for it in Jesus. Jesus was born in discomfort and poverty, and He is joy itself! I have found deeper joy than ever in the poverty and discomfort of my diagnosis. Delve deep into yourself this Christmas and ask yourself: can I find joy in someplace unexpected this Christmas?