Peace and joy.
These are two words often associated with this time of year. I've been reflecting on the epic ideas that lie behind the tiny doors of these little words. I cling to these words because I yearn for an aura about myself and my home that reflects peace and joy.
There is a beautiful image in my mind (that I often associate with Little Women) of my peaceful, joyful home. There is joy in laughter and gathering and family and friends and food and stories and song. There is peace in quiet reading beside a fire and snuggling up in blankets and writing and prayer and contemplation.
While my house filled with three young boys and a toddler might not exude peace and joy in every moment, there are certainly enough glimpses of it that I have hope for the future (and common sense enough to know it will be fleeting right now with these young children.) But I do have peace and joy within me. And that is a blessing I have taken for granted far too often.
This year I have seen much sadness. Glimpses into other people, families, and situations. I'm not talking about great catastrophes or tragedies set upon people's lives that are out of their control (although there has been more than one heart can take of those also.) This year I have witnessed the turmoil and depression of wrong choices. I have seen the prison of addiction. I have seen the hurtfulness of selfishness. I have seen the rolling stone of greed. I have seen the suffocation of lies. I have seen good judgment come down against people who have made poor choices, and I have seen them suffer the consequences.
I have seen what it looks like to live without peace and joy, and only in that contrast have I recognized how blessed I truly am. For me, this freedom has come because of direction I received from the church in which I was raised. While developing a spiritual relationship with God, I was also taught how to avoid certain behaviours and habits that might lead down dark roads. As a teen, these rules seemed restrictive, especially in light of my many peers who did not adhere to such. In my twenties, they became rules that were rooted in good common sense. But now, just now, am I coming to realize the great blessing of peace and joy allotted to me because I have avoided decisions that might end in heartache.
Over this Christmas season, I am pondering a little more on peace and joy. My heart is full of gratitude for these beautiful gifts in my life.