It happens, and most are more aware after this year’s events, of how life can look completely different than you expected or hoped. Who would have ever anticipated a pandemic that altered normal life for the entire world? It has been challenging to say the least. So how do we celebrate Thanksgiving when it doesn’t seem very happy?
I believe the answer lies in finding joy in the midst of the struggle. Joy is different than happy. Happy is dependent on the circumstances around us. Joy breaks through the sadness to a deeper appreciation to God for what matters.
We are in Oklahoma. This is a state where my mom was born, and where my grandparents helped settle the booming town of Jenks in the early 1900’s. I have relatives who have made our time here not seem so far from home. This is where my mom and I traveled three times over a decade to do research for my book, Through The Eyes Of Grace, based on my grandmother’s life in Oklahoma Territory. It is a memory that brings me joy and sadness; joy in that that we were successful, sadness, since my Mom is no longer here to share in the happiness of what we did together.
I have wanted to travel here with Tom since my book was published to show him all the places I discovered with Mom. Normally it would make me very happy to be here with him, but we are here for an unplanned crisis; Our daughter gave birth to her first baby prematurely. We have a micro-preemie grandson who is making slow progress making happiness elusive.
There are too many variables to be completely happy. But do we have joy? Absolutely! Joy in the life Elias has. Joy in the slow progress he is making (a miracle unfolding). Joy in the fact that we get to spend Thanksgiving with the newest parents in our family. Joy that we have the means to do this.
If I’ve learned anything this past year it’s this: Joy is a decision we must choose in the midst of unhappiness.
When normal is pushed aside either by force or choice, we must rise above the sadness and choose joy.
So this week remember, Thanksgiving isn’t dependent on our circumstances. We can be thankful to God with joy for many things. Let’s take time this year to look for it. It may be hidden under tears.
Have a Thanksgiving with joy from our table to yours.