One of my best friends is getting married today. We’ve been running around all weekend, practicing our parts for the ceremony, picking up our tuxes, and making sure that the groom celebrates accordingly before the ceremony. There’s an air of excitement, anticipation, and joy surrounding the event, even with all of the potential hiccups and stressful coordination that must take place. It’s been relieving for me to be here, out of town and around friends. The celebrations have been life-giving.
I struggle to remind myself of the good things in life. My own insecurities, stresses, and personal hurdles weigh on my mind regularly, occupying the time I have alone with my thoughts. I am more naturally disposed to be negative. It was something my mother took special action to help me combat.
It’s not that I’m not a happy person, but there are times (recent times being among them) when it is easy for my mind to drift to dark places. I can become trapped there, unable to remember why people can be so happy, and unable to find places in my own life to celebrate. Then I am coaxed out of this place by the joy of my friends, the anticipation of celebration, and other reminders that love, peace, and joy do in fact exist in the world.
This season leading up to the holidays is Advent for Christians. It is the season in which we anticipate the celebration of the coming of Jesus (Christmas); the moment for Christians that we believe that God entered into human form.
For us it is truly a time to celebrate, and during advent we see this celebration creeping up over the horizon. For many this is not an easy season. Things like loss and guilt can play a role in keeping one from being reminded of the things that can be celebrated during this season.
Celebration should be no simple task, however, as we must continue to be mindful of the darkness around us. Without this darkness to contrast the light, the celebration can begin to lose its vibrancy. We’ve all known people who seem to bury the negative in order to maintain a happy-go-lucky outlook of the world. This is the true test of those who celebrate the coming of Christ, is whether or not we can understand the weight of that celebration.
We do not (or should not) forget the things that are going on in the world when Christmas rolls around, for it is exactly those things that make Christmas so special for us. We must be able to weep with those who weep, to visit the dark places in people’s lives and empathize with those who are afflicted. To truly feel the depths of the celebration of Christ’s coming, we have to be aware of why He needed to come in the first place.
This year I’m trying to find a way to more genuinely celebrate this season. I don’t want to forget the bad, because I find that cheapens the reason we celebrate. I find it healthy to visit dark places, to explore the parts of the people that are broken, but we shouldn’t live there. There are indeed reasons for joy, reasons to celebrate, reasons to anticipate.
Whether it be as large as God himself incarnating into human form, or the laughter of old friends around a table in anticipation for a wedding. Good exists in this world, and good exists within us. That’s more than enough reason to stop for a moment and celebrate.