So this is Christmas…
How can this be? The days are long but years are short. I’ve heard of this… but surely I’m too young for this to be true.
I just spent my second night rubbing the legs and arms of a 5 yr old who aches with growing pains and I can’t help but feel that this year, 2016, has been wrought with growing pains of my own.
My favorite Christmas song runs through my head, A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices- for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn…
I am painfully aware of the weariness of this world. Some are weary from battle, some are weary from loss, broken-hearted, grief-stricken and some are weary of simply waiting. This season continues to bring me back to the thrill of hope – that something new and glorious is coming. Maybe it is a promise fulfilled, a need met, a season of rest or the adventure of a lifetime. Or maybe it is unassuming, like a baby that carries the hope of the world.
I remember last year, dreaming of adoption and a certainty, learning to cling to hope and trust in his promises. This year we celebrated the dream-come-true, the turning of the page and the overflow of his goodness. These have been unquestionably the highlights of my life. But in almost the same breath, we have experienced the pain of brokenness, the seeming hopelessness of trauma, the heartbreak of loss and again a place of waiting. I’m beginning to think God might be after something…
I recently read an incredible book, Present over Perfect, that really helped me see some things I believed, subconsciously, that were wreaking havoc in my life. By simply identifying these things, bringing light to the darkness, I began to experience a lot of freedom and grace.
At a young age I was pretty committed to not having children. While on the surface I could see this was driven by control issues, when I take a deeper look, through a lens of honesty, I somehow believed that having children would change my worth. Or should I say, it would change how I could prove my worth. Having a little tiny human that I can’t control just might impact the things that I was carefully trying to control… and in the end, you would see I’m just a mess.
Well…I am a hot mess. I had a recent doctor’s appointment and it went something like this:
nurse: how is your stress level? me: HIGH
nurse: how is your alcohol intake? me: higher
nurse: how often do you exercise? me: ummmmm… low
me: can you fix me?
Obviously, this isn’t a good path. I had to honestly consider what I should do differently. So, of course, I call my sister – “how in the world did you raise 3 kids, homeschool, work and live to tell about it?” Well, let’s be honest, it was touch and go there for a moment.
As I began to really take a deeper look I began to see two key things: 1. Something in me is driven to prove I can handle everything. Clearly, if God brought this into my life it is because I should be able to handle it. 2. I don’t want to disappoint anyone that is depending on me – especially God. Because, if I can’t come through then it will be painfully obvious how broken I am – like a vase that can’t hold water – kinda worthless, except for sentimental value.
That seems harsh, huh? You’re tellin’ me! I was a bit surprised myself when I got to that place. But surprised or not, it is what was truly driving me, in addition to the good things that God actually put in me. But man, it was exhausting… and it is costly.
There’s something mysterious about lies like these – once you see them for what they are they lose a bit of their sting. Once I reached the place of realizing I run myself in circles to prove I’m worth something, I was able to pull back a bit and rest. You see, the other part of my favorite Christmas song (that is pointed out in the above-mentioned book) says Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
Thousands of years ago, on that holy night, he appeared and he proved my worth. Friends, it has nothing to do with what I can accomplish but everything to do with what he sacrificed. It doesn’t matter how big I fail or how high I climb, it only matters that he chose suffering, crucifixion and death – that I might live knowing I am chosen, favored and worth everything to him.
Y’all… when I stop and really let that soak in… when I remember that he appeared that I may know my worth… this weary soul rejoices. And then I take a deep breath. It isn’t all up to me. The world doesn’t crumble when I fall. There is grace and I can live in it, I can offer it, I can sprinkle it around like glitter!
When I was tucking the girls into bed one night I sang Silent Night to them after prayers. In the darkness of the night, I could see the surprise on their faces, “did you just make that up mommy?!?!” No dear, that’s a Christmas song about Jesus’ birth. “It was so pretty!”
I can’t help but think there’s something in our heart that is drawn to the hope of that silent night, like it holds our missing piece…. or peace.
This year, man, it has had its up and downs, really high highs and even some hard lows. Growing pains of sorts… figuring out what it looks like to live out our story. Trying to work out our housing and finding ourselves in a season of homelessness that at times feels hopeless. Each and every hard place has brought me back to the question if I will believe he is faithful and his heart towards me is good. As I consider the story of a baby in a manger, a savior and king, I am reminded to rest – he is a master story maker.
As we enter the last few days before Christmas, I invite you to take a moment and consider the depths of his love, the proof of your worth, the love of a king that stepped into a weary world that we may experience hope. You, my friend, are worth it.
From this broken girl to you, I say, have a very Merry Christmas! And since I didn’t find time to squeeze out another family photo session, this is as close as I will come to a Christmas card. Much love to you all!