Theodore Roosevelt said that Comparison is the thief of Joy.
I would argue that expectations are actually joy-stealers. I often tell my kids to lower their expectations of friends, relationships and family. If you go through life expecting someone to meet your expectations, they will always disappoint you. And disappointment leaves no room for joy.
We are in the third week of Advent. This is supposed to be the time of anticipation – waiting for a Saviour. We have set ourselves up to expect a lot of our families, our churches, our friends and ourselves. We are consumed with dread, worry and stress. Anxiety means sleepless nights and restless days. To-do lists lengthen. Bank accounts shrivel. Get-togethers cramp our calendars and family demands our presence.
How do you spell JOY in the midst of this chaos? How are we supposed to REJOICE with the angels when we’re herding sheep with the shepherds? It all just feels like work.
Let’s give JOY a new name. RELIEF.
There is a moment- it is so brief. At times, you barely even recognize it, but it is there. It is the moment when all of the anxiety you feel is washed out of you. It doesn’t mean you forget your troubles or deny reality. It is just a brief release of all the expectations that have mounted.
Relief is when the waters parted and the Israelites walked through on dry land. The Egyptians were still on their tail and the wilderness lay ahead of them~~ but the waters parted.
Relief is when payday comes and you write the last cheque to get your bills paid and you’re not in the hole. Maybe for a day. Maybe for an hour. But it’s still relief.
Relief is when you write your last final before the break.
Relief is waking up Christmas morning knowing that what you bought was enough. Maybe it wasn’t what you originally planned. But it’s enough.
Relief is the moment you walk in the door after a long, hard day at work.
Relief is the baby tucked into her bed, the toddler sleeping on the couch and a warm cup of tea in your hand.
Relief is signing those divorce papers and letting go of marital expectations that were never going to happen.
Relief is waking up to find that your husband did all the dishes and let you sleep in.
Relief is finding 3 Christmas cards in the mailbox instead of bills.
Relief is working on a puzzle with your teenage daughter even though there’s multiple chores to be finished.
Relief is getting a call from your dad for no reason other than to say “hello” .
Relief is 100 refugees landing on the shore after a perilous journey across the sea.
Relief is a new immigrant family walking through the open door of their new home in Canada.
Relief is the MOMENT Mary gave birth and all of the pain of the world was suspended~
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Relief is this moment for the shepherds on the hillside:
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
You know how it is when you don’t know whether to laugh or cry? So you do both? Because……relief. It is the BEST feeling in the whole world and there is no word to contain its whole except for pure JOY.
Christmas season is here. For many it is a chore to be joyful. But that is not the message of Christmas. The JOY of Christmas is the relief of knowing that SOMEONE has your back. SOMEONE is going to handle the worry, anxiety and pressure. SOMEONE had to come and break the chains of darkness, sin and dread. The moment HE was born, the world responded with a collective sigh of joyful relief.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
THIS, This….is why we have Christmas.
I found this quote- there is no author given for it. And it speaks loudly to my soul:
Sometimes you don’t feel the weight of something you’ve been carrying until you feel the weight of its release.
The moment you let go of your fear and worry is the moment God sends His strength in the form of joy.
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. ~ Matthew 1:21