Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear. – Lutheran Hymn
The word “Christmas” does not stir up warm, fuzzy feelings in me. And I hate that. I want this time of year to linger and fill my heart with lovely memories. I want friends over, celebrating. I want to stroll through stores holding my hubby’s hand, not race around on a weekday morning trying to beat the crowds. I want to make time for people and not act like they are in my way and keeping me from my never ending list.
My default at Christmas is Stressed Out Wreck. So even if I had a beautiful memory happening right in front of me, I wouldn’t enjoy it for all the loud churning and clanking in my brain. It could happen and it would slip right off me like water.
This year, I wanted to enjoy the season. I was intentional. I was meditative. I started an Advent study, because I wanted to absorb the whole Christmas story into my being.
The very first day the Holy Spirit made me weep as He gave new meaning to Jesus as the Light of the World. I kept reading more and more scriptures until I was reading for pure pleasure and not really following the devotional anymore. And then something weird happened that I would have recognized as a blaring warning sign if I’d been paying attention (which I wasn’t). Even though I was mesmerized by this new understanding of my God, I started to get frustrated that the Holy Spirit wanted to speak to me outside of My Plan for studying Advent.
Let’s let that sink in for a moment.
Completely clueless to the danger that lay ahead, I plowed on. I got busy. I quit reading. And in so doing, I quit looking at myself the way God sees me and listening to His heart for me that day. I began comparing myself to all the women out there who seemingly have it all together. They own creative businesses and home school and run their family’s farm. (I home schooled for ten years and it was a good day when I had time to wash my hair.) All their decorations are hand made. So are their presents. And their wrapping paper! And right now their homes are spot on amazing. I did it. I fell right into the trap and began believing the lie that I am less than.
Why do we do that? The comparing?
God loves us. If we are in Christ, He sees us as perfect. Our families love us and just want to enjoy the season with us. Our friends just want to celebrate with us.
Pride, I’m sure. Self-righteousness, definitely.
Anything done for the wrong reason will get flipped upside down and drag you under before you know it. Am I reading my Bible because I want to hear God’s heart and know Him, or so I can check off the devotional box on my list for the day and pat myself on the back that I’m a good Christian?
Am I decorating right now because my vintage Santas remind me of all the care free happiness of being a kid at Christmas and I can literally picture myself scootching up under the Christmas tree to stare into the twinkly branches? Or so I can snap a picture for my Instagram feed and hashtag CLSantaSighting?
My heart hurts over the state of my humanness. At the neediness and longings and the twisted way I will try to fill up the empty spaces.
Yesterday, I threw down the gauntlet. No more running around with my teeth clenched doing things because I have to instead of want to. When God is moving in and through me, there is Joy and Peace. His Grace gives me the ability to do every single thing He has asked me to do. Why would I want to do ANYTHING apart from Him?
This season is about God coming out of heaven to rescue you, His beloved. Stop right there and let that absorb. Let that trump everything on your to do list. Let that be the plumb line for everything we do as we center back to what is real in life. Not just now at Christmas, but everyday. Amen.
What gets decorated, gets decorated. I will delegate as needed. I will enjoy my family and my friends. And I will turn my face to God in wonder at the miracle of His coming.