Do you ever feel like you’re kind of two different people?
I’ve felt like that a lot this past year and its an unsettling feeling. When we moved I was so sad about everything we had left, yet I was so happy about everything we were coming to. I simultaneously loved my new life and missed my old one. And its a weird feeling to be pulled in two different directions.
I think as Christians we become so focused on joy that we can forget about sorrow. Or we try to anyway. We want to move quickly past sorrow onto joy, like the speed with which we can do this says something about our spirituality.
But what if we could hold both?
II Corinthians 6:10 says, “As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing”. We have so much to rejoice over in our lives, yet there is always an element of sorrow. But the good news is, sorrow doesn’t negate joy. And joy doesn’t negate sorrow.
Maybe this Christmas you find yourself with that unsettled feeling I have found myself with. You may have something hard this season – a memory of losing a loved one, a broken family, an illness, loneliness – yet you find yourself wanting to find joy. Lean into the unsettledness. For that unsettledness is just real life. We always live in a state where we can find things to be sorrowful over and things to be joyful over. I’m learning that I’m not two different people – I’m becoming one mature person who realizes that life is not all roses. And that’s ok, because even in the sorrow, life is not all thorns either. We can live our messy, complicated lives with hard things in them because we have the joy of the Lord in us. We don’t always have to pretend that everything is perfect. We don’t have to approach the Christmas season ignoring all the hard things.
Instead of trying to quickly move past the sorrow to get to the joy, we can lean into both. Because no matter what difficulties are coming at you this month, I guarantee there are reasons to rejoice. Our Saviour came for us! That’s what we’re really celebrating at Christmas. And just that can be enough to rejoice.
So acknowledge the hard, the sorrow, but make room for the rejoicing. Hold both together – for joy does not negate our sorrow, but sorrow does not have to negate our joy.