Last week I enjoyed being in our community theater’s production of A Christmas Carol with my two youngest children.
Charles Dickens published his story in 1843 and it has never been out of print. A Christmas Carol has remained popular for over 170 years.
What is it about the story of Scrooge that appeals to generation after generation?
It’s that we want to believe that no matter who were are or what we’ve done, we can be changed.
We want to be made new.
We want to reclaim joy.
Scrooge’s glimpse into the future is what we all fear: loneliness, no one missing us when we’re gone and living a life that didn’t touch others.
We can only dream of being changed in one night as Scrooge is after being visited by the ghost of his business partner and three Christmas ghosts.
Becoming a bitter, angry person happens over time, as Scrooge learns when he’s visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past. He was a happy young man once. But sorrows such as experiencing an unloving father, his beloved sister’s death and a lost love slowly allowed bitterness to overtake his life.
Most of us won’t have our bitterness blatantly pointed out to us by three ghosts. God will help us discover it for ourselves if we listen or He may use someone close to us to gently point it out.
So let’s say you admit you’re a bitter, lonely person. Now what?
You have two choices:
1. Be angry about being bitter and lonely. Blame others for it.
2. Pray, make the choice to change and take action.
Surprisingly, many people choose #1, but we’re shootin’ for answer #2 today.
Here are three suggestions to finding joy this Christmas without having to be visited by three ghosts.
1. Get Out Of Your Bubble
The first thing Scrooge did on Christmas morning as his new self was to reach out and help others. He didn’t head to the mall or book a cruise. He had a goose delivered to the house of Bob Cratchit. He found joy in blessing others.
Getting out of our bubble and not wallowing in our own sufferings is important in becoming joyful.
2. Find The Cause and Change It
Identifying the root cause of bitterness is part of change. Clinging to past hurts and sorrows fuels bitterness. Those who live in the past tend to be angry and lonely. If the cause of your lost joy is something you can change–then change it.
If not, let it go.
3. Make The Effort
Joy isn’t always going to be easily found. As Scrooge saw in his past, many things stand ready to steal your joy. Everyday a conscious effort needs to be made to choose joy.
Growing bitter didn’t happen overnight. Learning to cultivate joy may take time. Be grateful and focus on what’s good in your life–even the small things like having indoor plumbing.
So this advent give cultivating joy a try. There’s everything to gain.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” ~Proverbs 17:22
Yolanda DeLoach (@YolandaDeLoach) is a member of Wesley UMC and through her writing, tries to remind herself to keep life light. You can visit her at her own site, yolandadeloach.com