"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17, NIV
"Let your heart be light..." - "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
I remember the moment vividly. A few years ago I was sitting in my pastor’s office with my church group. We went around sharing our prayer requests for the week and tears welled up in my eyes as I said, “I don’t feel joy.” As the words tumbled out of my mouth, I was stunned and saddened by the reality they held.
It felt like something was wrong with me. Everyone else seemed so happy with their life, but for months I felt trapped inside my anger and hurt. I was so emotionally fraught that I was physically ill.
It wasn’t even Halloween yet, but I knew I had to do something to spark some joy. So, my husband graciously blessed my idea to decorate early for Christmas.
As we pulled out the tree from the attic, turned on some Christmas tunes, and drank hot cocoa in Christmas mugs, I could feel some lightness seep into my heavy heart.
In a way, decorating for Christmas became a gratitude practice for me. As we adorned our living room with red and green, I found myself being grateful for the upbeat melodies of my favorite Christmas tunes, the bright colors that changed the look of my house, and the many special memories my ornaments held.
As we turn the corner toward Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m reminded that many of us don’t feel the joy we think we’re supposed to have. Some of us are still mending wounds, nursing heartaches, or working through uncertainty about the future. And if this is where you’re at today, I totally get it.
Sometimes we need very tangible things to hold onto when our hearts are hurting. So if you’re up for it, I invite you to find your own gratitude practice this season.
Whether it’s grabbing a pumpkin spice latte to remind yourself to enjoy the changing fall colors, decorating your Christmas tree to remember precious memories, or making a list of 10 things you’re grateful for each day, there is healing in acknowledging the beauty of small things and the gifts that come from above.
by Erica Smith
Nature noticer, contemplative wannabe, coffee drinker, wine taster, and novice painter.