As I write this, we are well into the Third Week of Advent – the week of Christian Joy. And I am pleased to say, beautiful joy has descended upon my heart this season! How wonderful!

Flash back to a few years ago, in the midst of leaving church, this was not the case. I experienced a lot of fear. I was nervous to leave the only path I knew and that I was sure to be the sole path acceptable to God.

Time passed and eventually distance brought more clarity. I came to believe I had come to a fork in the road, and was compelled to chose the direction that best fit me. There was always some sadness, as I envisioned my former path was one that had to be left behind.

This year I have come to realize, there was only one path after all, and that this one path was my own unique life journey. In church or out of church, neither choice was right or wrong. This individual journey consists of moments in time with learning opportunities along the way.

I recall how, a few years back, I took a pause during a particularly painful moment. I sat still with the discomfort, breathing it in with the brutal yet loving truth it brought. I believe that it was at this point that this messy journey became the strengthening path of a warrior. I had faced fears, loss, hard truths, and arrived safely on the other side. This time has become one of the greatest blessings of my life.

So here I sit, smack dab in the middle of the third week of advent. And I am so ridiculously excited to be embracing the lovely pink candle of joy! I want to light it up and hold it out for everyone to see in order to encourage all who are soldiering on through their own paths – paths of grief, paths of love, paths of sorrow and paths of joy. I am sending love and light to all.

It’s ironic, but it appears that great contentment is birthed only from the tougher lessons in life. Through hardship we learn that nothing truly essential to us can ever be taken away; we learn that sometimes life can be very dark, but to keep pressing on as light always returns; we realize people may come and go, but those who stick with us through the hardest of days, are more precious than jewels. Most importantly, we learn to be humble because we know we make mistakes; we learn to forgive because we realize how much forgiveness we require; and we learn to accept others and ourselves, flaws and all.

We are suddenly overwhelmed by unexpected joy!

Gaudete! Rejoice!

Truly, truly, I tell you, you will weep and wail while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman has pain in childbirth because her time has come; but when she brings forth her child, she forgets her anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy – John 16:20-22