One of my favorite feelings is when I get excited to show someone a video or meme that I hope will elicit an anticipated reaction, and then I GET that reaction. Let me give you an example.
A couple years ago I decided to show Evie the Star Wars films. In particular, I was excited to show her The Empire Strikes Back (unquestionably the best Star Wars film). Warning! SPOILERS ahead! You know that scene where Luke is battling Darth Vader in Cloud City? And Vader says, “Obi-wan never told you what happened to your father?” Luke replies, “He told me enough. He told me you killed him!” Then Vader says, “No. I am your father.” (insert shocked emoji face here) It was so shocking and so cinematically thrilling that it has now become cliché across all forms of media.
This was a moment I was looking forward to as a father for a very long time. I was careful not to reveal any spoilers over the years. Any time Star Wars came up, my wife and I did our best to talk around the main plot points in front of our girls. The moment came. Evie was sitting in front of the TV. Luke and Vader are on the bridge. They fight. They get to their dialogue. I pull out my phone to record the moment, because that’s what people do nowadays. Vader says his line, “No. I am your father.” Bam! The realization hits Evie’s face. She has the exacts reaction I hoped for. After all the years of secrets, of hiding spoilers, of anticipation; her mouth falls open. Her eyes widen. She turns her nearly 6-year-old neck in a cartoonish fashion to look at me while in the background Luke screams, “NOOOOOOOOOO!” The only word her little brain can think to form is “WHAT?!?”
It was pure joy on my part. I laughed. We watched the rest of the movie and then we talked.
Moments like this provide memories that we share and recollect for the rest of our lives. The kind of joy that we love to tell others because every time you remember, it makes you happy.
As we plow through the Advent season and head into Christmas, I inevitably think of special moments with my family. My wife and my kids bring me a huge amount of joy. Most of the best memories of my life have happened around them.
My daughters make me laugh every day. Now that they are both old enough to start purposefully acting funny and making jokes, the daily routines of meals, getting dressed, getting ready for bed, and numerous other things provide opportunities for us to make each other laugh. Every once in a while I can pull myself out of those moments and appreciate how lucky I am while they are still happening.
While reflecting on the joys in my life I wonder, what brings us joy? No small question. It’s a very personal thing to everyone. Sometimes joy comes to us differently depending on our moods and whims. But is there something in your life that is a constant source of joy?
Sometimes I think I am too jaded by the world to experience the joy around us. The stress of work, family, money, politics, and everything else in life can really weigh us down. How can I possibly think to be joyful with so much stuff around me to bring me down? The simple and obvious answer is God. We are his children. He provides an unceasing amount of love. Because God IS love.
God is love. A phrase we have heard a million times from friends, neighbors, teachers, priests, and others over the years. It is so powerful and true that, like Vader and Luke, this phrase has become cliché when we think about religion or God. I encourage you to really ruminate on this phrase. It’s not “God provides love” or “God gives love” or “God has love”, but God IS love. Not a simile or metaphor. GOD IS LOVE.
God is our father. We are his children. That means we are children of love. How do we live up to that idea? As daunting as it may seem for us to be love to others, it’s actually really simple. We live and provide love to others in our lives no matter who they are because above all else, love is unending and infinite. We can’t run out. Despite all the stresses and anger you may have about other things, our love for others ever replenishing. It is a well that never runs dry. We cannot say to someone, “Oops, sorry. I’m all out today.”
We do at times need a reminder that the love we have is never ceasing. That’s when I tap into those memories of joy that I mentioned earlier. They refill me emotionally so I can try and show God’s love throughout my day. The beautiful thing is, I have a 3-year-old I get to experience the, “No. I am your father,” moment all over again in a couple years. Find those moments of joy in your life so they can be reminders to you that God is our father, and God is love.
Have a wonderful week and a blessed Christmas.