I think this is why Christmas has been so hard for me. Most years I can put on the music, turn on the tree, stare at my lavish decor, and pop an extra Christmas cookie in my mouth... and it takes me back. Back to a time in my life where the biggest concern was the number of days until the present-opening fiesta. Back to a time when I knew that all my needs and many of my wants would be taken care of at no cost to me. Back to the days when I was blissfully ignorant of the world and the evil in it.
This year is so different. When I look at our garland of Jesse tree ornaments, I'm reminded of how many sinful generations this world had to go through before the Savior finally came. Yes, there's redemption in all those stories; but there's also murder, incest, prostitution, pain, hurt, and evil. When I reflect on our focus this year of giving to others, I am reminded that the needs of this world are so much bigger than myself, though not bigger than my God. As I think about the birth of Christ, I think about birth. The reality of birth. Do you remember birth, mommas? It's messy and awful and painful and breaking; yet there is such beauty in that first cry. Such beauty in the first cry of the Savior, born to rescue me.
It's these sensitivities that are changing me. Drawing me into a deeper, more real love for my Savior. It's this desire to keep focusing on the realities and the needs of this world that keep me from slipping into the euphoric sense that all is well everywhere during the twenty-five days of December. Peace on Earth... Because it's not peaceful. It's sinful. It's broken. It's ugly. And more often than I'd like to remember, it's just evil.
A couple days ago, they found a four year old in my community living in horrific conditions. It's the stuff that movies are made of, though it's so extreme I'm not sure anyone would believe it's true. I wouldn't if I hadn't seen the pictures...read the quotes from Animal Control about the rats and the mice...heard the commissioner talk about the smells and the toys amidst trash.
This is the best-for-me Christmas I've ever had. God is breaking me in so many areas where I need to be broken, need to have my blinders ripped off. Need to feel His heartbeat for the world and the lost around me. Need to sense His urgency. Teacher Man and I keep talking about our desire to enter full-time ministry reaching out to the children of our community, and the same thought keeps being echoed.
There's not much time.
I just don't feel like we have many days left.
This world is so broken. He must be coming soon.
How do I balance all this? World hunger and meal planning. Child slavery and library time. Poverty and my Christmas shopping. Prostitution and bedtime stories. The lostness of this world and the lostness of my own children. See what I mean? Now that the evil is in front of me, I have to do something. But the dailies that I must do for the health of my family seem so trivial compared to the wounds of this world that need the Healer I know.
So I pray. I pray with an open heart that God would show me how my two hands fit into His tapestry of grace. How my frightened, weak heart can beat courageous and passionate. How my little warriors can make an impact. How His redemption is making old things new and transforming the broken of this world into a radiant bride.
It's a gloomy day here. And my heart is heavy. But amidst my sadness at the reality of this world, I have hope to move forward. God has a great and marvelous plan for my life. His perfect love casts out fear. And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
May Emmanuel, the God who dwells with us, touch our hearts and minds this Christmas. May He transform our lives to be a truer reflection of Himself. May He be near the broken and the needy. And may He wake the sleeping to the actions of grace.