Joy. We sing about it. We desire it. But often we look for it in the wrong places.
Too often we hope that this season of parties and family gatherings and gifts and special concerts and candlelight services will somehow generate joy within our tired hearts. But we find that parties don’t quite meet our expectations, and family gatherings sometimes turn ugly. Shopping for gifts stresses our pocketbooks (and patience), and candlelight services require extra rehearsals.
So where is the joy in all this? What is the secret?
According to Charlotte Mason, the secret is appreciation. “Life has no greater joy-giver than Appreciation” (Vol. 4, Book 1, p. 148). Joy grows as we look for and treasure in our hearts any good that we see in others—any beauty that is displayed in word, action, or scene. And not just the obvious being-nice-to-me words or actions. It is as we look for traits of good character demonstrated in anyone and toward anyone, even if just a peek of that trait, that we grow toward the habit of appreciation and that elusive ingathering of joy.
“Appreciation is a delightful inmate of the House of Heart, and is continually bringing an ingathering of joy. It is so good and pleasant to notice a trait of unselfishness here, of delicacy there, of honour elsewhere; to observe and treasure the record of the beauty of perfectness in any man’s work, whether the work be a great poem or the sweeping of a room” (Vol. 4, Book 1, p. 148).
I love that contrast. We readily see beauty in a great poem, but do we as readily see it in a well-swept room? If not, we are missing that opportunity to increase our joy. It is in the multitude of small things that we can grow in appreciating and adding to our joy.
So grab every opportunity. Today, rather than fixing your eyes on what is discouraging and disappointing, “observe and treasure” any beauty around you in word, action, or scene. And see if it doesn’t increase your joy.
And most of all, look long and lovingly on our blessed Savior, Jesus Christ. “Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!”
Merry Christmas from the SCM Team!