I am all about traditions, routine, order, and knowing what to expect. When plans change, it can be very triggering for me. Even something as lovely as a vacation can set me on edge and make me feel vulnerable. As much as I smile and delight in the fun on the outside, on the inside, I am fighting anxiety and panic with both fists. It is a weary battle.
Bring on the holidays, and that is a recipe for pure angst.
- Fewer lights on the tree than the many strands I had envisioned.
- Explosions of emotion and memory from opening the boxes of ornaments.
- Eleven destroyed ornaments so far from our sweet puppy, Maisy Jane.
- Professional family photos that haven’t been scheduled.
- Christmas cards that haven’t been created or ordered.
- No pictures on Santa’s lap.
- No long lists of oh so fun to find “hot toys” – instead, “Just get me this one big item.”
- Fewer gifts, which means less hiding, less wrapping, and less opening.
- Painful aches for those who are absent.
- Tears for the friend who received the awful diagnosis.
- Sleepless nights tossing and turning in prayer for the heart of a child.
- Changes in friendships, relationships, and traditions.
There are disappointments, frustrations, and unmet expectations in all of the dazzling merriment.
How should we respond?
Mary was pregnant and traveling on a donkey with swollen feet and an aching back. She did not have a reservation at the Hilton. There was no guest room available for her. She was going to give birth in a stable without an epidural.
But in the smelly, messy, and painful circumstances surrounding Mary, light burst forth as she delivered a Love like no other.
That same Love exists today in your smelly, messy, painful circumstances.
Do you see Him? Can you find Him there?
Just this week, I found Him in a powerful therapy session, a gentle rebuke, and an encouraging lunch.
He is with us always. We are never alone.
Like Mary, we can sit in the mess and hold onto to Jesus.
Whatever this season brings, take the time to embrace Jesus especially when its messy, disappointing and even confusing. Be still in His presence and embrace His Love.
Embrace Emmanuel, God with us.