Recently, if you had peered through my window on any given morning, things would have appeared to be a normal close-to-Christmas scene. You would have seen me curled up in my designated spot on the couch, Christmas tree a-glow, my latest reading and writing materials by my side. On the holiday-themed table next to me, you’d have found a piping hot mug of coffee, fuel for my frenzied writing of an overdue blog post. And my sweet pups, lounging at my feet would have rounded out the scene.
But if by looking closer you could see the invisible, you would have detected something out of the ordinary. Because the reality was, I couldn’t really taste or smell the coffee. And while you would have seen the lights on my tree, a second pass would have revealed the missing ornaments -- a casualty of my lack of energy and bone-deep fatigue.
Although I sat with pen in hand, I struggled to write much of anything because my mind was cloudy and ideas were as elusive as--- well--- I’m not sure “as” what, because my brain was too fuzzy to think of a clever way to end that sentence. And, full disclosure, it still is.
In recent days, what you might have missed upon first glance through my window, was that this year, for my December birthday that usually kicks off my Christmas celebrations, I got COVID. And while I’m tremendously grateful for a forward-thinking physician who placed me on a protocol that has made the virus tolerable, COVID has impacted more than my physical wellbeing. It has drastically altered my favorite time of year.
This year I went from planning time with loved ones to planning out my medicine schedule for the day. I went from checking my list of things to do to checking my oxygen level and temperature multiple times a day.
And while I’m encouraged by what seems to be vast improvements in my physical health, the truth is I’m struggling. This season that normally fills my cup and finds me looking for creative ways to fill others’ cups, as well, has my “creativity” stretched to its limits.
2020 has been a year marked by tremendous loss, for myself and for so many people I love. But I probably don’t need to remind you of that. Many of you have experienced it, too.
As Christmas approaches quickly, with its hope and anticipation and message of Joy to the World, what, then, are we to do with the heaviness? With the loss? What are we to do with our questions? Our confusion? And yes, even our anger?
These hardly seem like gifts fit to bring our King. Right?
Truthfully- I’m not so sure.
I mean-- what if our questions and needs and sorrow are exactly what He wants us to bring? After all, bringing Him our pain, our sense that all is not as it should be, would mean that we trust Him with it, right? It would mean that, while we are aware that He might not do anything about it (at least in our preferred timing), we acknowledge He’s the only one who really can.
What if my honesty and vulnerability, if acknowledging my own weakness, is more than acceptable? What if it’s what God desires?
In Psalm 55:22, God seems to be encouraging this- telling us to “Cast your troubles upon the Eternal; His care is unceasing.”
In Isaiah 53, we’re told that Jesus was acquainted with suffering and sorrow. He “gets it.”
So, while to some, my gifts this year might not seem fit for Royalty, they are what I have.
This year I give my grief:
Lord, comfort those who have suffered great loss- knowing “great” is a very personal weight of measure.
I give my confusion:
God, why must there be so much sickness and separation in a time meant for unity and wellbeing?
I bring my anger:
Jesus, destroy the enemy that authors the injustice and devastation experienced in these days of virus and loss.
This is my act of worship this Christmas. These are what I have to give my King. And with them- something else.
I hold a deep belief that all the things that throw me and weigh me down are nothing compared to the power of my God. Power to heal. Power to comfort. Power to save--to make things right again. Even if He doesn’t do it in the way I want.
Amid my grieving, I will celebrate the Hope of Christmas. To my gifts I will add my trust. My love. My honor. Because He is Immanuel--God with us… in our pain, our sorrow, our questioning. In all things, He is with us.
Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams, a child is born, sweet-breathed; a son is given to us: a living gift. And even now, with tiny features and dewy hair, He is great. The power of leadership, and the weight of authority, will rest on His shoulders. His name? His name we’ll know in many ways— He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing, Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace. --Isaiah 9:6
If, like me, you’re feeling like what you have to give the Christmas is less-than-fit for a King, remember that God is in the habit of taking what we have and turning it into something beautiful.
This Christmas is so very different-- I know. But we can still hope. We can still give. And we can still believe. Just don’t pretend you aren’t hurting or needing or questioning, if that’s where you are. You don’t need to choose between what is true when it’s all true. He knows it. And He is with us through it all.
Merry Christmas to you and yours! May you find joy and connection in this unusual Christmas Season. As my gift to you, stop by www.itsmyoutloudvoice.com and check out the Resource tab to grab your free copy of our Gratitude Journal.
If you are struggling this holiday season, please don't face it alone. Reach out for help. There is hope and healing available.