Bumbling Through the Challenge of Christmas

I’m normally a positive person- but my ‘positivity’ this past month has been pretty depressing. I was positively negative.

I didn’t feel good.

I didn’t feel like decorating my tree, even though it was already put up for me.

Our family chose not to exchange gifts this year- just to create less stress and financial strain, which was great- till it was sad.

Loved ones have been wrestling with serious health, relationship, financial issues…! I can do nothing to help, but I feel the concern deeply anyway.

I missed all but one of the Christmas music events I so enjoy during the Christmas season. The one I did participate in, I felt like I was only half present.

If it sounds like I am complaining —- I am! Or I have been —- alot! (poor Ren) I didn’t realize how much until I started feeling better, which wasn’t really until today- last day of the month, the year, and this depressing mood. My dear husband has been more than patient with my bungling the Christmas.

My friend Pat encouraged me to look at my year just to see the big picture of it. You know there has been a lot of HARD STUFF this year. There were some circumstances that felt intense such as my dad’s heart attack in February, and Ren’s dad going into hospice and passing in March. As I looked at the list of HARD STUFF, I saw that while they were full of emotions, they weren’t ‘bitter’- just hard.

I also noticed I was DOWN a lot (exhausted, fatigue, lack of brain power or emotional capacity). I did throw my back out last January- and dislocated my shoulder in March. But most of my DOWN was probably due more to my stress- or the way I handle the stress and emotions of life. I work hard to keep on top of things, but sometimes it is just too much. Since my adrenal glands don’t work, it doesn’t take much.

So how was your holiday season? If I am bringing yours down by all my complaining, I am sorry. If you connect with me because of the HARD STUFF in your own life, then I am also sorry. And yet, I am very aware that it is in all the STUFF that life is lived. In the tension of the happy and sad, the good and the bad - that is where we grieve and cry, celebrate and laugh, fear and take courage. There are moments when all seems well with the world, but they seem fleeting.

As I look ahead to the new year, there are many circumstances that I don’t see changing anytime soon. There are issues that may not be resolved, at least not the way I want them to be, as soon as I want them to be. Healing of my body or emotions may not look like I want it to look. Relationships may be messier than I hoped. The book will take longer to write than I planned.

But as I have pondered what I have been hearing from the Lord this season, it came back to a conversation I had with a client earlier in the month. She was really NOT wanting to go to the annual Christmas dinner with family because of a heated argument that had taken place the last time they were together. I chuckled because she offered to go ‘lick every spoon in the elementary school dining hall after the kids ate lunch’ so she could get whatever germs would make her sick enough not have to go.

But as we spoke she decided she would go for 3 reasons:

  1. Her young daughter wanted more than anything for the whole family to be together. She would go for the child.

  2. She would lean into love and choose to behave in a loving way toward family members in order to have an enjoyable time together.

  3. She would put herself in the shoes of the other family member, and seek to understand how they might be processing this situation.

The conversation has replayed in my mind over and over again this holiday. Isn’t that the whole jest of that first Christmas? It was a messy scene with smelly travelers, animals and shepherds instead of fragrant trees, and lights and beautifully wrapped packages. Mary wasn’t in the comfortable surroundings of her home, or with people she knew and trusted. She and Joseph had to both be really tired from traveling and dealing with the masses of people who had also come to Bethlehem for the census.

She probably didn’t feel great.

She didn’t have her own space.

She was surrounded by strangers at a most vulnerable time in her life.

She could have complained. But Luke 2 says “she pondered all these things in her heart.

The child

The love

The lives of the people who were sharing this moment with her.

That is Christmas!

The Child

leaned into love

and put himself in our shoes to bring us hope.

Hmmm? There were some times when I felt like I had “licked all the spoons” so I wouldn’t have to do something I didn’t want to do over the holiday. Fear of what could be, or sadness over what was got in my way several times this holiday.

But when I quit complaining and started pondering… I saw so many things differently. I don’t know what 2019 will hold, but I want to LIVE CHRISTMAS year round this year. In fact,it guess it is my resolution list this year.

Know the child- his birth, his death, his resurrection and the power that has in my life.

Lean into the love he came to share with you and me.

Put myself into the shoes of the people in my world and sharing this hope with them.

Ok! I may have bungled a lot this holiday, but the spirit of Christmas broke through to me again.

What are you pondering as you start the new year?