Christmas Joy

Kaci Harshman
My house is empty.

It's Christmas Eve and my house is empty.

First, let me say that I am so very thankful to have a house with the recent events of the tornado that hit my very special hometown. Nonetheless, my house is empty.

If I am being honest, my house being empty is just a physical reflection of the place that my heart tends to go around this time every year. You see, most people love Christmas… don't get me wrong I am no grinch but I am not really a fan of Christmas all that much. I am not really 100% sure why that is. Maybe because I am always missing family members that are no longer around. I struggle with the sense of defeat that comes with people trying to do more than they need to in gifts, or the fact that I don't know if we are truly taking even a moment to sit and reflect on the real meaning. Everything in our world today is so fast paced and commercialized. For the past few weeks, I have been extra anxious with the upcoming Christmas holidays approaching-- but please know I am all about the Christmas things: the gatherings, the food, the gifts, the wrapping… all of it. I love all of the things that go along with this holiday season because I really do love people… So why then am I so darn sad and why did I wake up this morning crying with this broken heart?

I do not know if this is the full reason but this is where my heart has landed and the only thing that I can make sense of really. But I have longed for a family and for new traditions at Christmas for as long as I can remember. You see in December 2001, I was a brat and that's just me putting it nicely. Really, I was not just a brat that day. I tended to be a brat more often than not. But, on this particular Christmas, I was a real stinker in every single way possible. My mom and my grandparents had, as always, gone above and beyond to make me as happy as I could be with ALL the things that I wanted… only to come to realize a year later that, in fact, that 2001 Christmas was the last one I would share with my mother. I think it was then that I began to long for a time when I would get to recreate the joy and love that she and my grandparents had given me, start some new traditions in hopes to keep my own children from being a brat like me, and hopefully make the shift for my own family to be more about resting and finding joy in the Lord more than the things that were fleeting. Fast forward… it’s 2021. I am now 31 years old and currently sitting in my living room on Christmas Eve with an empty house. I find myself still longing for this opportunity to fill this home with family and with the traditions and values of Christ that I know are so foundational, not just at Christmas, but every single day.

My question was why - because you need to know also that I am in the sweetest place in my life right now with people that do love me and people that I do very much love and enjoy every single day. I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that I was sad. If I am honest and real, I wanted to avoid getting in The Word and figuring out what my Dad had to say about the condition of my heart. I kind of wanted to sit in my sadness and not see His goodness. Nonetheless, I decided to see what He had to say

Hebrews 12:1b-2
“let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

In true perfect intentional fashion, my Dad knew my heart and what I needed to be reminded of. You see this verse is so perfect. Jesus was the example for me. He knew the JOY that was set before Him: a joy that was so good and eternal that He was willing to ENDURE the CROSS so that I would have a chance to find that true JOY. I know it sounds cliche, because we say all the time that Christmas brings so much joy to our lives but I tend to disagree with the idea instead that it brings happiness for a moment and then it's gone. This happiness is good and it's awesome. I am so thankful that so often I get to enjoy so much of it but it is only fleeting. So fleeting that often we are looking for the next thing or even while we are enjoying the very thing that makes us happy, we are already looking ahead at how it could be better. In this verse it speaks so much truth in that we (I) must lay aside the weight and sin - in my eyes these are all the things of this earth that I think will make me happy and RUN towards the CROSS. Yeah, it seems easy but the reality is that it is not, especially in the world we live in today. A world where happiness is almost able to be bought in some sense, or happiness that we can pretend to have for the world to see via our cell phones, but really it's happiness that only leaves us longing for more because we are holding onto things that truly won't last- so letting go of them is hard and it is real… but it is worth it for the joy that comes with it.

My heart is heavy today and I am sad. I want for that sadness to be gone - BUT in this moment of this verse I had to be reminded that I must be thankful that this sadness for me is really what is fleeting. And when I want it to be gone immediately- and my Dad to only speak and my home to be filled with the family I so desperately desire to fill these walls I MUST sit in sadness. Because I am reminded today that this sadness that is only here for a moment for me is the very thing that so many of the people I love are sitting in every single moment of their lives. Yet like me as a kid-  or even sometimes now we are looking for the next thing to fill us with happiness only to see that it won't last.

I think today I will chose to see the blessing in this moment and I will hope to never forget this feeling even if I am blessed with a family that I so long for, I do not want to forget this moment of sadness only to be reminded that my sadness would not be fixed even if I got the very thing that I long for the most on this earth. Instead I would be seeking out the next thing to make me happier in that moment, but instead it is in the laying down of what I want and seeing the goodness of the Lord in this moment because He already endured it all so that I could be sad for a moment only to be reminded of the Joy that is to come forever in Him. Which makes it all the more worth it and makes Christmas all the more sweet.

1 Comment

Kara - December 25th, 2021 at 9:12am

So much necessary truth in this. Thank you for listening as He speaks, and for sharing. I love how He loves us through...wrestling with the Truth, figuring things out, being content in the yuck of things.

Your story is a great telling of how His love wins. ♥