The Starbucks line is now stretched outside of the building, the parking lots are just getting fuller, and the children are basically running (falling) alongside their parents hustling from store to store trying to finish up that never-ending Christmas shopping list. It’s the busiest time of the year – and everyone is fully aware of it.
As a doer with an outgoing personality, stopping to rest is something that happens rarely – and only in the past couple years do I actually schedule time to not do. I actually plan to not plan anything. And it works. But what I realize about this time of year – and I think you will relate – is that “Christmas shopping” and “parties” and “concerts,” may all be a disguise. I think the question that we have to ask ourselves is; are we really just trying to go and do because if we stop, reality will set in?
You see, as I sit here in a town center that is in probably one of the most wealthy communities in Texas – I see it clearly. Pain. Hurt. Grief. Exhaustion. Facades. And the continuous plight of the 21st century American, to “have it all together.” And you know what friends, “those” people are not alone – we have all been there or right now, are there.
You see Christmas for many is a very happy, joyous, and merry time of year. But for some, it’s a painful realization of unmet expectations, of the absence of what isn’t anymore – whether family member, friend, or even just circumstances. Though we say Merry Christmas – sometimes for some, it’s not as merry as we would like. I love this quote by C.S. Lewis:
“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”
You see, sometimes our circumstances matched alongside our defense mechanism to run and do, cause us to lose sight of the fact that we are all in this together. God, graciously, saw fit from the beginning that, “it is not good for man to be alone.” He has divinely created us to be in community. But our endless to-do list sometimes blinds us to the realization that all around us, are people going through the exact same things. Like the friend right next to you that is just as nervous to go home for Christmas and face the inevitable questions of their dating, marriage, or career life. Or the friend that’s facing that first Christmas without the boyfriend she’s had for over four years. Or the stranger who’s facing the first Christmas without her father or mother. Or the mother who’s kids won’t make it home for Christmas this year. Or the father whose relationship with his son just doesn’t seem to play out as expected. Or the many men and women who are oversees and won’t see their families for months because they are fighting for our country.
The holiday season is in and of itself, merry and jolly. Just like love – love in and of itself is not stained – but because we live in a broken world – even a holiday with so much joy can be stained by reality. And you know – it’s okay for you to feel this way. Our society has deemed that being fake is better than being real. Life is not perfect and pretending it is such is an exhausting, habitual, downward spiraling effect that will only lead to more hurt and pain.
This Christmas my prayer is that we will realize that life led by truth and not filters will bring more fruit than pretending you have it all together. We must choose to not run, but stop and see that we are not alone and that facing your circumstances will help breed more healing than any amount of to-do lists ever will.
So though Miley thinks you can’t stop or you won’t stop – my prayer is that this Christmas you take a moment to grieve what is lost, look for what has been found, and enjoy the beautiful realization that over 2000 years ago a miracle was born. That a young virgin mother and a carpenter gave birth to the Son of God surrounded by hay and animals (not the Instagram worthy scene, huh?) and to this day is the most talked about birth in history. May we realize that if Jesus Himself can set aside time to withdraw to pray and seek guidance and comfort (Luke 15:16), that we can as well.
Whatever kind of Christmas this is for you – may the joy of the Lord be your strength and may the goodness and compassion of Jesus be the source for the season – and not the expectation to have it all together.
all my love and Christmas blessings from your fellow “not all-together” sister in the fight…