It wasn’t so much that I wasn’t ready for Christmas this year. Truth be told, I didn’t want Christmas at all this year. Every part of me was avoiding its coming. The thought of Christmas without my beautiful mom was too much.
If you’ve lost a loved one and faced the holidays, you know what I am talking about. Holidays without loved ones are rough; and yet, the holidays don’t stop coming.
I found myself, even more, simply "getting through."
Despite my protests, my grabbing, my unwanted busyness, my crying, Christmas was here, all around me, pushing its way in, overwhelming.
Christmas was different this year. I knew it would be, though not fully understanding how, how Christmas would be at all without Mom here with me, with us.
It wasn’t the merry Christmas I knew and loved so much. It was all that I dreaded, heavy and fragile. Christmas drew attention to all we were missing and the brokenness in our hearts.
But all of this that I didn’t plan, God expected.
I think, maybe, that’s some of God’s point. Christmas gives time, intentional time to celebrate and remember how God gives Himself to the world in the most unexpected ways.
The unfolding story of God’s unfailing Word reaches down and claims us—me too—right where we are, His love echoing through generations.
And I realize there is a gift in being broken…because brokenness leaves new space, vulnerable and open, for what is always here easy to overlook and take for granted.
What I need even more than my Mom in this life has more room to fill me now. Christmas reminds me.
I look past the noise, the tree, the lights, the presents, and I see what I have been given. I can feel what I cannot touch. I breathe it in. It’s all around me. My sweet husband, my boys so eager for Christmas playing with my little nephew, my sister, my brother-in-law, all together.
Mom’s love shines through each of us in our own ways in these gifted all-together moments. We remember, we cry, we laugh, we dance, we sweat, we play, we hug. We live on together and celebrate God with us.
Family—small and large, near and far. We are complicated and wonderfully imperfect and love incarnate, all unfolding—in need of grace and each other.
Even the dreaded hard in this Christmas works together for good, and I am thankful. It's an answered prayer of mine.
The empty and broken makes more room for God to fill me with more of Himself, the greatest gift ever.
It helps me to read and read again the Christmas story, from out of the stump of Jesse.
Ladies, just put yourself in Mary's shoes-- God sent an angel to help Mary claim God’s Word for her life. A small town girl, a virgin, already engaged to a man, became pregnant with God's child by the power of the unseen and unknown Holy Spirit.
And guys, Joseph's walk wasn't any easier. His fiancé carried a baby that was definitely not His, a baby he didn't even get to name, a baby he raised and loved despite the complicated circumstances. Joseph's first thought was to walk away, but God interceded with different plans. And God's plans, amazing, involved no room in the inn and our precious and mighty Jesus, Lord of Lords and King of Kings, born in a manger bed plain and simple.
Can you imagine the conversations this young couple faced, the emotional weight, the "getting through" they had to do? And yet, their "getting through" was a valuable part of God's reaching down to become more real in their human lives, showing them that He would do what He promised. Looking back, God did what only God could do.
God my Savior, always coming for me too, living and dying for me, rescuing me, loving me so much, graceful and real, planned and promised long before and long after me, God knows what He is doing.
We are His, you included. We have a place in His love story, no matter how well we know it and claim it.
Maybe you, too, are in some way, in some area of your life, just "getting through." Sometimes just "getting through" is huge, and it's all you can do. You struggle to embrace the gift of Christmas. The reason really doesn't matter.
The challenge so many of us face, if we are honest, is to live into the reality and fullness of Christmas— Immanuel—God is with us— when the tree comes down and decorations are back in the attic, when the days aren't holidays.
I have come to call that everyday faith, tried and true.
Because there was a time when I was missing everyday faith, I keep writing, even in my own "getting through"...hoping and praying that in sharing what God does for me everyday, you will know, more and anew, the certainty of things God has been telling us and teaching us all of time through the Bible.
I pray these words will fill you with a bits of encouragement to claim, even more, the reality of God's promises to you and for you. I also pray what you read connects your heart and mind to God’s Word for your life in a way that helps strengthen your personal relationship with Jesus who saves and brings life full.
Here's the Christmas reality I am growing into and you can too…
Christmas is everlasting and everyday— God wrapped up precious for us, unassuming and miraculous, powerful and everywhere, waiting to be held, inviting us to come and see and know...
…what He has done,
...what only He can do,
...how He is with us right now in every moment,
…how much He loves us,
...how He gives us reminders to believe and hope
for what He will do in all of our days
So, as we dive into a New Year, what if we carve some quiet, still time to keep reading God’s Word together and apply it to our everyday living?
Let’s come and see and know God more this year than we did last year.
Let’s grab hold of God’s promises we find and pray for God to use us in His story, making His promises true and real for us as His divine glory meets us in our regular days.
Here’s a prayer for you today-
You are my Mighty Lord and Savior, my Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. You have all authority in Heaven and Earth.
Forgive me for for all the ways I compartmentalize You and Your Living Word in my thoughts and actions. I need You more than anything else.
God, help me understand more Your Word and power in my life.
I pray you will do in me and for me what only You, God, can do. I also pray the same prayer for [name family and friends on your heart].
May Your Kingdom come and Your will be done.
In the Mighty name of Jesus I pray,
"For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. "
Note...Several things worked together, inspiring this blog post:
- my daily AM quiet-time reading God's Word and listening to His voice
- the advent book I read this year, The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp.
- the song, "Noel by Chris Tomlin featuring Lauren Diagle