This weekend I got to do one of my favorite things of the whole year. The Farm where I used to work was putting on their annual Christmas event and I got to volunteer for it. This event is great- a wagon ride that stops at different scenes where the story of Christ’s birth is told by volunteer actors. The culmination of the scenes is the last one. A simple nativity in a barn and angels singing. The gospel is told at this scene which means that all the thousands of people that come to this event have the opportunity to hear the gospel. I. Love. It.
Friday went really well but Saturday came around and it was POURING. Torrential downpours, people. And for an event that is outside, it didn’t look like it was going to be quite as much fun that night. But I was reminded that things go on and the gospel is shared no matter the weather. And I prayed. Lo, and behold, we had practically no rain for the tours and as soon as we finished, it started to rain again. Isn’t God incredible??
But this weekend, I also had a good friend of mine say something unusual to me. She asked me why I was smiling so much and said I just looked so happy and she loved it. She said she is so happy and wished her face could show it like mine can all the time.
Gotta admit, I was kind of taken aback for a minute. I had to stop and think. Of course my answer would have been different if this person wasn’t saved but she’s a strong believer and we are good friends. I thought and just realized that somehow, seeing God answer small prayers like clear skies and being surrounded by people I love, doing something I love filled me with a joy I haven’t felt in a long time.
But I think there’s more than that. Growing up, I was the embodiment of the Christmas spirit. I was ALWAYS cheerful, ALWAYS singing carols, ALWAYS excited for Christmas. And that’s a hard expectation to live up to. The last two years, I have felt very depressed and numb at Christmas but I didn’t show it. I felt like I needed to be the cheerful person that my family and friends expected me to be. And I hated every minute. I hated pretending to take joy in my favorite time of year when I felt nothing. I would enthusiastically participate in every Christmas activity and then come home and cry because I felt so empty.
And this morning at church, sitting taking communion, I realized that I wasn’t faking that joy this year.
It was real.
Amidst all the pain and difficulties this year has brought, God has given me his joy for this season and I don’t have to pretend to have it. I suddenly felt so relieved and unburdened.
So if you saw me quietly crying during communion this morning, no worries, they were tears of thankfulness. Just pure gratitude as I remembered all Christ has done for me.