I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about the subjectivity of time. And while that sounds like a highly intellectual topic, it was premised on the fact that it would legitimately make more sense for me to measure my days according to the number of cups of coffee I’ve had than with the Gregorian calendar (if it’s any less than 3, did a day even pass?).
By the end of the conversation, I came to two conclusions: 1) I should probably cut down on the caffeine and 2) that time is best expressed in seasons. These seasons may be ushered in by a change in location, a personal resolution, or a new way of thinking. And they may end as old friendships fade, long-held aspirations change, or you decide to drop your childhood nickname because it turns out “Pinka” is unprofessional. Whatever the case, I can firmly say that I have lived through more seasons than “20 years” could ever communicate. Maybe that’s why I feel so ready to retire...
Last semester was probably one of the hardest seasons of my life, specifically because I didn’t want it to seem that way. On the surface, I could keep smiling, keep laughing and making jokes, and attend classes and club meeting with the same consistency. But behind my temporary-tattoo cheerfulness, I felt smothered by the weight of uncertainty, expectations, and struggling friendships. Each morning I would tell myself to “choose joy” but would feel worn out and defeated by the end of the day. I poured my full heart into pursuing a “right attitude,” only to come up feeling more dry and desperate than ever.
The thing is, God never intended for his children to live a life of “hollow joy.” His deep desire was to BE our joy; it’s source and reason. When Jesus was born, the angels opened up the skies with the glowing brilliance of heaven, and promised “good news of great joy that would be for all people.” (Luke 2:10) Jesus promised them same, and reminded his disciples that when they allowed his words and his love to “abide” in their hearts, they would experience the fullness of “his joy.” (John 15:11). The truth is, when I try to fill my tank with joy from my circumstances, my friends, and my attitude, I will always be running on empty. But when I allow the simple Gospel to fill me up, I can rest assured that I have more than enough hope, peace, and joy to last me the entire journey.
What does it look like to live out “glad tidings of great joy” that the angels promised? How can I allow the hope that I will sing and dance before the Creator God change my feelings, my heart, and my attitude? This week, I want to remember that, when I feel like the shadows of winter have crept into my bones, God invites me to “abide in the shadow of the Almighty,” where I can find true rest, real shelter, and a love that I can’t stop smiling about.