The year ended, leaving me, with a surprise. I know it’s now the new year and we are supposed to be looking forward but before I do, I need to TURN BACK to the old year for a minute. I need to process something I wasn’t expecting.
I found Christmas this year. I thought it was lost to me. It never really felt like Christmas. For you too? (What does Christmas feel like, really? Why can’t it change from year to year?) There was no snow. The boys were wearing hoodies not winter jackets. It was grey every day.
Advent was non-existent in our house. I didn’t decorate other than a few table decorations because we were having the staff over one night. The tree went up because the boys expected one (rightly so). But other than that, I opened a few boxes and closed them up again. I didn’t have the energy or spirit. I didn’t even set up our nativity scene, something I usually love.
So I fully expected nothing from Christmas. I hadn’t done my duty to prepare. Because it fully depends on our doing to experience Christmas, right? To wonder at the Christ child’s birth, we have to do advent readings. Attend church. That’s what we’re told, maybe not in words.
To feel Christmasy, the house must be cleaned and decorated to the nines. Our freezers must be loaded with baking and treats. We pressure ourselves every year.
It’s not just Christmas, either. Easter is starting to feel the same. It’s becoming something else to do rather than experience. We’ve messed it up. It all depends solely on us. All.Of.It. We think.
If we don’t participate, we tell ourselves, then we don’t deserve to see Jesus. That’s how I thought deep down although I probably wouldn’t have admitted it. I’m not saying that baking and decorating and Advent are bad. But what about grace? The outside glitter is okay but if it becomes the idol of Christmas then we need to TURN AWAY from it.
My TURNING AWAY this Christmas was rebelling against the status quo and being too exhausted to bother with it all. I’m weary of doing and chasing. I just said no to it all.
Saying no was the best gift I could’ve given myself. In the empty spaces that not baking, decorating, going and doing left behind, those spaces were filled with quiet, rest, and peace.
I thought I wouldn’t see Jesus this Christmas because I hadn’t done my part. After all, I had said no to Him. Rather, I had said no to the imposter that says to worship him I have to work hard to know him, I have to chase but never catch him. (Lynne Hybels in her book, Nice Girls Don’t Change the World, first clued me into this imposter.) I thought I had lost Christmas.
But the real Jesus, showed up in the quiet, in the rest and most of all, in the peacefulness of our home. I didn’t recognize him at first because I’ve been too focused on the imposter and the lies he’s been whispering. I believed all I deserved was a lump of coal. Naughty girl.
As I TURN BACK to the last couple of weeks, I see the presence of Jesus in our home and our lives. I was thinking about another problem one day and God showed me that sometimes when we think He is far from us, He’s actually sitting right beside us. Sometimes He waits for us to TURN TO Him. Other times He TURNS TO us first. And still others, He just sits with us. But in all of these situations, He is near. He is loving us. Even when we think He has abandoned us.
That’s what I see, when I TURN BACK to Christmas 2015. I see wisps of his presence in the boys’ laughter and twinkling eyes. I see Him in the rest, against all odds, both my husband and I experienced. I see Him in the funny things Whiskers, our pet dwarf rabbit, does. I see Him in late night movies and chicken wings. And so much more.
The emptiness brought fullness. The stopping instead of doing, brought focus. It all brought me face-to-face with the real Jesus. The true gift. Unexpected. Undeserved.
My desire In 2016, is to TURN TO the real Jesus. I won’t be doing anything else. The days of earning, striving, and chasing are over. (Although I know I will have to remind myself again and again about this. These lies have been ingrained in my DNA if feels like.)
TURN TO the real Jesus. And then, I’ll wait for Him to show Himself.