when you’re not feeling Christmas

I am beyond over the song “Silent Night.”

“All is calm, all is bright…”

Are you KIDDING me. Literally, this woman just birthed a CHILD and there’s all these animals all over the place and animals are not silent. And then she has all these strange shepherd dudes show up and y’all, seriously?! I don’t really get how “silent” describes a bunch of rowdy men.

The stable wasn’t clean and I’m having a hard time believing it was bright, because it was night time and electricity was not a thing.

Calm and bright doesn’t exactly describe where I’m at right now, either.

I wanted to go into this season and leave last semester with all of the boxes wrapped, the edges creased, the tape smoothed, and the ribbons symmetrical. Wrap it up, life, before Christmas. Finish the chaos, bring the closure, so I can go home and celebrate Christmas like I’m five again.

Life, as it turns out, can’t be put in a box.

The semester didn’t really do the slow fade thing. And Christmas doesn’t feel as magical as it did when I was five, or even fifteen. There’s wrapping paper everywhere, crushed boxes, and fraying ribbons.

So basically: a mess.

But Christmas is approaching rapidly, still not slowing down. Regardless, the whole silent night thing doesn’t really feel possible right now.

Sometimes, our live feel like that stable. Oh, wait a second.

Where did Jesus choose to go? The stable. Where it was messy.

When did He choose to come? When it was least convenient. When it didn’t make sense.

Christmas isn’t supposed to be a band-aid, especially when chaos doesn’t end with the calendar. This season isn’t a temporary escape into a different reality.

Christmas is the reality that God takes on our messes and invades our hearts. He doesn’t say, “Leave your hurt at the door and come in.” He says, “Come through the door with your hurt. I’m going to make it into something beautiful.”

He doesn’t tell us to suppress our confusion because if we really believed and trusted in Him, we wouldn’t be confused. He doesn’t just shut down the storm, He enters into it and brings meaning to the waves.

He dignifies the stable. He takes on our mess and our weakness. He doesn’t tell us to just get over it and sing “Joy To The World” and slip into a cookie coma.

Because Mary was probably confused on Christmas. Joseph probably still had no idea what the heck was going on. They were cold and homeless and life really didn’t make sense. Christmas sounds kind of like a disaster if you’re just looking at the raw circumstances.

But in spite of all that, baby Jesus was born. He came when it was loud and when there was confusion. He came before the answers. He came before everything made sense and everyone understood. He came in the midst of the mess.

So often we are so preoccupied with what’s going on around us that we forget that reality: He came.

It doesn’t matter what state your heart is in. It doesn’t matter what you’re confused about, what impossibilities have placed fear in your heart. He’s so much bigger than all of that.

Just stop and let that truth wash over you…let it be enough. He came.

The lights of Christmas aren’t enough to distract us, but Jesus is enough to heal us. What kind of God has the power to snap His fingers and save, but instead chooses to come sit with me in the mess?

A couple of months ago, a friend was praying with me and got this image of me running into a forest and just hiding in this cluster of trees. This place was where I would go to process, when things didn’t make sense and I didn’t want to feel. Yeah, Jesus could just obliterate the trees and bring me into the sunlight…but instead, He comes and sits with me.

He doesn’t just take me out of the forest, He leads me through the forest.

Here’s the deal: there will never come a moment in our lives when we’re not struggling, when we’re not striving, and when there’s not some sort of hurt that’s still gripping our hearts. There’s always going to be missing pieces and there will always be the longing for more. We’re never going to be perfectly ready for Christmas…or anything, really.

But the beautiful reality of a King that pursues us is that He takes our confusion and turns it into wonder. He takes our chaos and turns it into music, dancing with us on the waves.

We don’t need to approach the stable with the lines all colored in and the strings all tied up. We can come with our knotted ribbons and ripped wrapping paper.

Even with all of the noise, He wants to be born in our hearts.

Maybe the silence is far beyond circumstance…I mean, I don’t know, maybe everyone really was super chill and baby Jesus slept through the night. Or quite possibly, it was the silence of their hearts. Maybe this silence was so powerful because it did not depend on exterior events but rather the wonder of God becoming man, the wonder of this new life that was far beyond what anyone could ever hope to understand.

And maybe, what we see as messes aren’t actually. Maybe they are invitations for us to be held by the One who came to heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free. Actually, yep, that’s it. Let’s believe it.

This Christmas season, let’s give Him everything that is weighing on us. Literally verbalize the hurt, verbalize the confusion. Look Him in the eye and ask Him what He’s going to do about it. And then turn from whatever circumstances that are distracting you and claim that He is the one who has power, not what’s going on in you and around you. Focus on what it means for you personally that He came. The reality of Christmas has the potential to totally transform our lives…what does that mean for you?

He came. Let’s allow Him to turn the confusion into wonder. Let’s allow the invasion of His love silence our hearts with the reality that He is here.

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