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Thanksgiving has passed, and we are inching closer to the next round of holiday festivities.

As we wrap-up this last week of the last series of 2018, my prayer is that we would loosen our grips and grow roots. 

Expectations. As the cheesy Christmas movies and commercials kick into high gear, I feel the pressure and strong desire for the “picture ready” family. I want the picture-perfect Christmas holiday with all the memories, traditions, and togetherness. It makes me sick how much I want what it is not mine to have. 

Expectations. I grip my hands so tight over what is only a fantasy. I pray and hope that one day it might be my reality. Not just seeming merry and bright but actually living it out. The problem is that others cannot fulfill the desire of my heart. A close-knit family can’t give me joy or peace. It looks that way on TV and those delightful Hallmark movies but there is more to experiencing the holiday spirit. The Spirit. 

Expecting people to fulfill roles they were never meant to play will only lead us to more and more resentment and disappointment in what this time of year and life in general is about. Joy. As we seek it we find it only in Jesus. As we start to experience it, our lives start to shift. It becomes more about Jesus and others than us and what we are trying to force to happen. 

The spirit we are searching for and we crave to feel during this time of year isn’t something our family time can give us. It can only be found through Jesus. We can create and set the stage for family togetherness, but that deep rooted joy is not from the experience but from God. 

We have to let go of expecting our families to fulfill what they never will be able to. We have to let go of trying to curate joy and peace. Our expectations and desires are beautiful. They are. But joy, peace, love, and transformation of our hearts is freely given and done by Christ. Expectations turn into surrender when we let go and trust that He can fulfill what we want more than a pretty picture.

When we are with Him, that is where our joy will be found.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

God, thank you for these friends. Help us let our families off the hook for what only you can give us; joy. When we are looking at all the pictures, buying gifts, and dreaming up ways to make Christmas happen, help us to remember that you are why we have this day. Joy is only found in knowing you. Help us to trust you and let go of trying to make joy happen. Thank you for being our source of everything we desire and giving us the precious gift of family. We love you. 

- Hannah