fight for joy.

advent is my favorite season.

i know some people don’t get it, and some people clutter it with christmas and the things that aren’t christmas in the end, but it’s my favorite season.  i identify with the waiting, the anticipation, the holding your breath, holding out hope, and waiting for something extraordinary.

this year, advent is hard, and different, and new.  i’m sitting in the in-between of anticipation, as i think about what’s ahead.  the last advent while in school.  the last season i’ll have with some of my classmates.  ending one job, starting another, and wondering what will happen after that day of commencement.  sometimes i feel like i’m watching all the plans i’ve made slip through my fingers, and while there seems to be nothing left, i’m assured (especially with the direction of the season of advent), that God has something much better in store for me than i could ever have for myself.

i experienced the first slip of these plans the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  we wanted to have our tree up before the advent season started, so plans were made to remove it from our attic that Sunday.  these plans came to a screeching halt when we discovered…mice. rats.  rodents.  let me tell you what i knew, two weeks ago, about pest control.

nothing.  other than my mom using a rat poison that caused rats to disintegrate, so we never had to deal with their bodies after they, well, died.  apparently, this is a myth.

let me tell you what i know about it now.  well, a lot more than i ever hoped or anticipated to know.  but i digress on pest control.

a thirty-minute task ended up turning into hours of moving and going through boxes in the attic, disinfecting the tree, researching pest control, trying to salvage the half-eaten strands of lights on our artificial tree.  thankfully, jed and eric helped greatly with all of that…gross stuff.  melissa worked on the lights all week, but they were a lost cause.  eventually, we took the tree to the street, borrowed wayne’s truck, and visited home depot for a new tree.  and it’s beautiful.

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i say (or well, write), all this to say that sometimes things don’t go according to plan.  sometimes things aren’t what they seem, or how we pictured them in our heads.  much of my life isn’t how i pictured it would be last year.

advent is about waiting, and anticipating, and hoping, and being full of joy.  this season has been hard.  mary told me one time we have to fight for joy. i believe it.

so this season i’m fighting for joy. i’m fighting for advent. when i want to cry, because it seems nothing is going the way it should.  as i drive a truck into the home depot parking lot to pick out a tree, i have to fight for joy.   when i feel overwhelmed and scared with the newness of all this life, i have to fight for joy.  when i worry about friendships and relationships and changes and feel like everything is slipping through my fingers, i have to fight for joy.

fighting for joy. taking each day one step at a time. and more importantly, remembering God’s faithfulness.  and remembering that this is not the end.  every fleeting moment of happiness and every fleeting moment of sadness on this earth are temporary.  my tree and job and house and the rats and car and student loans and material possessions and worry and fear and even earthly relationships are fleeting and pass away, in the blink of an eye, in comparison to the richness and width and breadth and beauty of eternity.  this reminder, it’s the true source of joy.  that my joy isn’t based on what i have here, in this world, but on what is to come.  that the “here and now” are only here and now. they aren’t temporary.  something greater is coming. i don’t have hope only in this life–and if i did, i would have to pity myself.  my hope is in the life to come.

so i take a deep breath. i listen to advent songs. i think about hope. i cry. i laugh. i smile. i worry. i fear. i hold my breath. and slowly, i watch, and wait, and remember.  the same King we waited for, to come redeem us of our sins, to be born in the tiny manger…will come again.  all this world will pass away.  there are far greater things ahead than any we leave behind. and this, this is my joy. it’s joy worth fighting for, in the midst of sadness and happiness and rats and relationships and broken christmas trees and no-white-lights-in-any-stores. so sing this song to me again when i forget, and help me to remember…this, it’s not the end.

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