Searching for Joy in the Holiday Season
The skies outside are endlessly gray again, the clouds are melting into one another in a wide expense of dark color. The weather is cold, dreary, and the days blend together as the sun disappears quickly beyond the horizon. The days are shorter, the nights are longer, and the mental to-do lists pile within our minds as we run from one thing to the next. Finals loom over us as our days are spent sitting in the library or in low-lit coffee shops, surrounded by people but oblivious to their presence.
It is so easy for me to slip into a weird slump during this time of year. I find myself consistently anxious with what’s coming and stressed for what is already here. I want to enjoy the season because Christmas is my favorite time, but sometimes it’s just hard to do so. So, I feel guilty or like something is wrong with me because I’m not constantly humming Christmas tunes under my breath or decorating a tree because I just feel down inside. I know that I’m not the only one who feels this way and that many of us secretly struggle to push forward during this time of year.
Here’s the thing: it’s okay. It’s okay to not feel completely joyful and full of glee during this time of year. You’re not alone. This time of year can be a hard time for people. Whether it is a season that brings the memory of deep pain and loss or if it’s hard to battle depression through the short days and cold weather. However, it’s important to take note of our struggles and take care of ourselves. I’d like to remind you of some things as we go through this busy season together:
Whether that’s in a coffee shop studying with your friends or shopping with your mom, be all there. I believe it’s easy to become discontent with what’s around us without stopping to see what or who’s waiting for us right outside on our curb. Love people well and love them deeply, with everything you’ve got. Put down the phone and stop scrolling through other’s feeds. Holiday joy looks different for everyone, so go find your joy. Ask people how they’re doing, write a note to someone you love, stop studying long enough to look around the coffee shop and take in the sounds of people talking, and just be.
Surround yourself with community.
If you know this time of year is difficult for you, then reach out to people you know you can rely on. Text a friend and let them know you’re having a hard day or invite people to coffee. Talk about life, the difficult things, the hard things. Have conversations that dig deep and challenge you to bear your soul in a Starbucks. Get involved in a church or find a place to volunteer at during this season with a cause you are passionate about. Trust me, there are people out there who care about you even if you don’t know it. And on those days where you may find yourself alone? Jesus is right there with you every step of the way whispering “hey, I know this time feels dark and messy but I promise joy is just around the bend, even if it’s not in the form of decorated Christmas trees.”
Take time to dive into this season.
Christmas is such a holy time and I know when things don’t feel okay inside the last thing you probably want to do is spend time with God. Oh, trust me I know. That’s okay, however I’ve found that even when I just sit with my Bible open and absolutely nothing to say, God somehow finds a way to hear me. Take this time to mend things between you and God and fall back in love with Him, or fall in love with Him for the first time. Read an Advent devotional or a chapter of Luke each night. Sit in your car and say absolutely nothing if that’s what you need to do. Whatever the mending process looks like for you, then do it because this is the time to grow, change, and mend the cracks. All you need to do is take a step forward.
Finally, you matter.
If I could say it to you in person or mail you a letter telling you this, I would. I’ll say it again for the people in the back, you matter. You have value in this world, even on the days you feel like there’s nothing left for you here and this season has no end. I understand you and I’ve been there. The thing is, this season will pass and the next will come along in due time. However, there is a deep love in Christ that will guide you while you’re in this season and piece you back together day by day, week by week. It’s hard to truly live while simultaneously questioning why you’re living, trust me. I can tell you for a fact that you’re living matters and you’re here for a reason, and that beautiful thing is only for you to discover. So, keep pressing forward into each day, knowing that beautiful and exquisite things are just on the horizon. Be present, be with people, and truly live.
Taylor McElderry // @taylor.mcelderry
Hi friends, my name is Taylor McElderry! I am studying Elementary Education and Non-Profit Organizational Studies at the University of Oklahoma. In order to paint a picture of who I am, here are some things I love: people, coffee, international missions, painting, sunny days, hugs, authenticity, Dr. Pepper, old movies, deep laughter, passionate people, and the Gospel. I love stringing words together in an effort to exemplify Christ and the ways He has changed my heart. I hope that you may find a glimpse of the Kingdom and a friend to walk alongside you through the words I write!