It’s Christmas Week, and that can invoke all sorts of feelings. They span the gap from panic to pleasure, stress to serenity, despair to delight. The older I get, the more aware I become of the tensions that underlay Big Days. We all want the Hallmark Christmas.
The beautiful tree, roaring fire, loving family, brightly wrapped gifts. But for many of us, this is just not our reality. All you have to do is turn on the news to know that many people are experiencing a Christmas with pain.
And maybe you aren’t on the news but your Christmas season hasn’t been all tinsel and eggnog. There’s broken relationships, broken dreams, broken down bodies. There’s worries about your kids, your finances, your health. There are worries that you are not enough and yet, somehow, you are too much. You find yourself in a Wilderness instead of a Winter Wonderland.
I’ve read these words from Ann Voskamp every year at Christmas and they still ring true:
“The wilderness offers you grace: we are most prepared for Christ, for Christmas, when we confess we are mostly not prepared…He comes for you in the wildernesses. You are most prepared for Christmas when you are done trying to make your performance into the gift and instead revel in His presence as the Gift. That is all there is left in these last days of the Advent road – the sacredness of His presence saturating everything.”
A few years ago my then 4 year old was singing a Christmas carol one morning. He was singing The First Noel. Except he doesn’t know the word ‘noel’. And he interpreted it as two words. “No ow.”
I’m longing for a Christmas with no ow.
But no matter what circumstances you face, Jesus doesn’t leave. Matthew tells us this: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him ‘Emmanuel’ – which means, “God with us.”
God. With us.
God. With us.
It never fails to still me. My breathing slows and my heart runs out my eyes. Jesus has chosen to be with us. With me.
Christmas is for the broken.
When you look past the tinsel and the holly and the lights and the cookies and the ugly sweater parties, Christmas is for the broken.
If there had been no darkness or pain or struggle or uncertainty we wouldn’t have a need for Jesus. And the story surrounding his birth had all of those elements; darkness, pain, struggle, uncertainty.
I don’t know where you are right now, how you are feeling, what you are thinking. What I do know is this: Jesus isn’t afraid of your real prayers. He’s not afraid of the mess. He’s not afraid of your questions. The greatest gift you can give this season is to come to Jesus with your realest you. He can handle it. Trust him.
“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Tara Harting is a miracle-working mommy, writer, teacher and blogger. She writes for We Help Children, a charity dedicated to helping kids-in-crisis in North and Central America. Get involved with Tara’s charity at WeHelpChildren.org
Check out their online Christmas Catalog and choose a gift as a family that will help heal children and families through the coming year. Or please consider giving a year-end tax deductible gift. Click here to donate.