It’s that twinkling lights, Silent Night time of year again.
The season when peace and love take up a little more real estate in our conversations and lives.
When we lay aside our differences and embrace our common humanity.
It’s the time when "believing" seems more possible.
For many of us, we’re preparing to celebrate our Reason for the Season, with traditions and events and stories of a baby King, with a horse trough for a throne and a mission to save the world.
This Christmas Season, I set out to prepare my heart and encourage others to do the same through a “25 Days of Christmas Challenge” (see @myoutloudvoice on Instagram or scroll through My Out Loud Voice on Facebook).
Its been a beautiful time of practicing presence, gratitude, altruism and giving. What a privilege to participate in this intentional journey to Christmas. It has truly helped prepare my heart and focus my spirit on celebrating the true Spirit of Christmas and the birth of my Savior.
But here’s what it didn’t do.
It didn’t stop me from missing loved ones who I won’t get to see this Christmas. It didn’t change the sorrow I feel over struggles in the lives of people I love or the brokenness that touches my life and theirs. It didn’t stop the frustration over my helplessness to heal loved ones who are sick or even dying.
I still had disagreements with a family member and a dear friend. I’m still stubborn and I still get it wrong a lot of the time. Participating in the challenge hasn’t made me perfect nor has it made for a “perfect” holiday.
On a broader scale, there are still wars and rumors of war, hunger, poverty, natural disasters, division and dissension.
So, here we are, two days before Christmas and if I'm not careful I can still find myself wrestling with expectations unmet which leaves me feeling disappointed.
Apparently, I’m just as human now as I was when I began the challenge 23 days ago.
By now, you’re probably asking: “then what did the challenge do for you?”
I’m so glad you asked!!
Above all else it has allowed me to let it be Christmas.
While it hasn’t changed a lot of things, it has changed me.
And in some ways, that is everything.
It has allowed me to experience, in real time, the ability to hold both joy and sorrow together. That both can be true.
In spite of all that may not be right in my world, I can
Let. It. Be. Christmas.
I am reminded that circumstances are not so dire as to prevent Christmas from coming.
My experiences throughout the challenge helped me remember that:
God still loves me and other people.
Heaven still came down.
The Hope of the world took on flesh.
He chose to live and die for me.
And He chose to do it for you too.
So, this Christmas, if you’re living in the tension between pain, sorrow or loss and trying to find your Christmas, I get that it’s hard and I’m sorry you’re hurting.
And at the same time, I want to encourage you…
Take a deep breath (or two).
See the lights and remember the Light that came for you and wants to shine into your darkness.
Hear the Silent Night and remember the night a King traded his throne for a smelly stable for you.
Remember you are loved with an everlasting love by the One who is Love.
In spite of it all, my friend, Let. It. Be. Christmas.
In your heart and in your home. Now and through the year.