Hello, friends. I’ve made myself scarce around these parts lately — the usual outcome of a full plate and little room to separate the portions. These days of Advent waiting seem much more like days of doing, plates piled high and course melding with course. And, though I do love Christmas, it is usual for me to require many deeper breaths than normal this season, anxiety throbbing at the edges.
I suspect I’m not alone.
And it’s not just the tasks. In our world, so much is tinged with sadness or downright infused with it. What does it mean that Christmas is here?
For me, even over-the-top happy carols bring to mind those literally running for their lives; readings from Scripture prophesying Jesus’ coming pound with an awareness of the not-yet. I’m struggling to come to peace with all that remains broken as we celebrate.
Allowing the foretastes of peace, comfort and joy to be just that.
This morning, my girls sleep in, and I sit at the base of our nine-foot tree, listening to Indie Christmas carols through my laptop. As you might remember, last year our Christmas tree’s top was lopped off in an unfortunate miscommunication, and I worried it would brown (though screwed back on) and crumble in a pile of sad needles to the floor.
This year, much of my time gazing upon our tree, the top 20 percent has remained unlit.
An imperfect Christmas, as always.
Yet I still wonder what I must do to make it all come to pass, to make this season memorable and magical for our children and where I even am in the midst of all the craziness. I lose myself, you see.
In the same day, I read twice these words of CS Lewis (from Mere Christianity) — in a study manual and in Edie Wadsworth’s powerful memoir, All the Pretty Things:
“Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him.”
And then this from 1 Thessalonians 5:
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
And this from Isaiah 9:
“His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace, there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”
Emphasis added, but don’t you see: He will do this.
(Repeat to self: my identity, my tasks, my desires, my hopes — they ultimately are not about me.)
Though it shouldn’t be, I find myself startled once again, in light of Scripture, how little depends on me. Yes, this stark contrast of God come down rears up against internal and outer scripts that insist otherwise.
Yes, I’ve presents to wrap and gifts to check off the list, preparations to make and a tree to re-light. I don’t read that God will do that. I have real choices to make about how I will live and love and care. But my true self — and yours — our real lives are found not when we do more or differently or better. Our true selves are found in beholding not ourselves, but the life in the manger: the Prince of Peace.
Emanuel, God with Us.
Oh, come. Let us adore Him.
My prayer for you and me these last days before Christmas is that we might loosen our grips to receive what God himself has done — and will do — and that we might know a taste of peace.
NOTE: These books have been a gift to me during this season — waiting as holy and the gristly beauty of broken lives being made new: Come, Lord, Jesus: The Weight of Waiting, by Kris Camealy and All the Pretty Things: The Story of a Southern Girl Who Went Through Fire to Find Her Way Home, by Edie Wadsworth.