Jesus speaking: ‘I want you to know the delight I experience, to find ultimate satisfaction, which is why I am telling you all of this’ –John 15:11 (The Voice).
My youngest son (who is 19) and I have developed a Hallowe’en tradition (okay, it’s been twice) of carving pumpkins and watching Psych reruns. We laugh and get ourselves all gooey with the pumpkin guts, I leave the guts and seeds out for the squirrels, and then we light candles in the carved pumpkins as we continue watching Psych and grab some dinner from the raided fridge. Usually, my other two kids will join us for the marathon viewing, all the while making comments and laughing. I love these times of togetherness and recognize how soon they may end with my daughter getting married in the Spring.
So many traditions seem to move on as we grow older. Last year, my middle child said that Christmas Eve church services didn’t mean anything because it was all showmanship and performance. He’s right (Don’t tell him. He doesn’t need any encouragement); but I love the showmanship. Does it have much (if anything) to do with Christ? Not really. But part of the celebration of the season for me are the 3 Cs–children, candles, and carols. I need those three things for Christmas Eve to feel … well … Christmassy. I love the twinkling lights and the festive decorations. I love the cold noses, hot chocolates with peppermint sticks, and fragrant soups simmering on the stove. Watching the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve, Miracle on 34th Street (1947 version) Thanksgiving evening, and The Bishop’s Wife while wrapping presents create warm feelings in my soul. When he announced that he would go to Christmas Eve service as long as we admitted that it has nothing to do with Jesus, a piece of my joy died.
I know I should be able to dismiss his thoughts and just embrace what I love about traditions; but on the enneagram personality chart, I’m a 9–which means that I live vicariously through other identities. It’s hard, not impossible, for me to enjoy events if the ones I love don’t enjoy them. I have discovered how much I let go of treasured memories because others don’t find value in the traditions. As an extrovert, I don’t enjoy doing things alone. I will make myself go places alone; but experiencing events without family or friends to create a memory leaves me a little cold. If I can’t feed off their joy and share my own with them, the fun never ignites in my heart.
Sunday church services have become reminders of my lost connections with childhood traditions. By choice, I usually sit alone in a corner of the sanctuary. Because of my empathetic nature, I tend to get distracted by the people around me and their emotions. When I sit with Jud, I find it easier to filter other people’s heart burdens; but he has learned that smaller gatherings inspire his spirit and fill his soul. We have both given each other freedom to experience Christ where we see His life exhibited. He and I both are learning to express our needs without shame, and humbly accept our limitations. However, in the freedom comes a sacrifice, and I haven’t learned how to experience joy in church traditions without company … yet.
So these days, I ponder how to fuel my joy without expecting help from others. I haven’t figured out any answers to those musings yet; but my confidence is expanding that God will help me tap into His joy without sacrificing the relationship connections in traditions that I believe important. Embracing the journey without knowing the destination doesn’t come naturally to me. But, I do look forward to experiencing the delight of God along the way! For now, I will light a candle in my pumpkin and watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with whomever happens to wander in the room and content myself with enjoying today’s moment.
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