Embracing Christmas …when it’s less than perfect

IMG_8181

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. 

There are:

  • Fewer lights on the tree than the many strands I 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.  

In all of the dazzling merriment, there are disappointments, frustrations, and unmet expectations. 

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.  

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Matthew 1:23 KJ21

Emmanuel – God With Us

Emmanuel - God With Us

The sweet scent of cinnamon and sugar mixed with Christmas music filled the kitchen. I was joyfully singing along to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by the window. Just as I was cracking the egg, my voice cracked, and my heart broke as tears spilled into sink.  
 
I stood there peeling egg after egg. Breaking them and pulling back the hard shell.
Remembering.  
 
Sometimes in the midst of such joy and happiness, pain can rush in like a hard punch. 
 
Especially during the holidays, grief and joy mingle and intertwine like the red and white of a candy cane.  
 
A song, a smell, decorations, or a show can send unexpected waves of emotion.
 
Tears spill with questions, old and new. 
 
Why? 
 
What if? 
 
Breathe.  
 
Look around. Smell the candle. See the twinkling lights. Hear the laughter and the music. Move.  
 
In the grounding, the wound that bubbled up and festered out of nowhere simmers down a bit.  
 
The light shines through the tears and brings the moment into focus.  
 
Not alone.  
 
The little girl of inside of me is here amid the festivities. She’s safe. She’s not always festive and bubbly but she’s present. Out in the open. In the light. In the truth.  
 
She enters the fullness of the celebration mended… and broken.
 
And here… 
 
She’s welcome. She doesn’t have to hide anymore. She’s no longer numb. No longer frozen. No more fake smiles and empty eyes. 
 
She’s standing holding broken eggs, teary eyed and gazing beyond the kitchen window.  
 
And she’s going to be okay.  She’s breathing in new seasons with fresh eyes. Making new memories and even remembering the good. 
She is loved. 
Emmanuel - God With Us
She’s with me.  
He’s with me. 
Emmanuel – God with us.  

 I will escort the blind down roads they do not know,
        guide them down paths they’ve never seen.
    I will smooth their passage and light their way.
        I will indeed do it—they are abandoned no more.