This year the season came apart and me with it. Sometimes Christmas just doesn’t happen like you want it to… or even at all. Yes, Jesus is still “the reason for the season,” but even true platitudes rub raw places more raw. And you look around and see the holiday in pieces around you.
My sweet amazing mama was admitted to a local hospital a few days ago with a respiratory infection and with some amazing care and even more prayer, we are celebrating every step in the right direction.
But it meant today was filled with hospital runs and suiting up with infectious disease gear just to visit. I was wrapping up in protective gowns and gloves instead of wrapping presents under a tree. Christmas cards never got sent. Presents left unwrapped. Meals uncooked. Year-end updates remain unwritten. But she is right where she needs to be and I am so grateful for the incredible care she is getting. That might be the most meaningful gift of all this year.
I’m thankful for praying friends who are standing with us for her healing and full recovery. For the texts and calls reaching out through what has felt like a very dark night to say, “You are not alone.” There have been wild gales of tears alone in my car driving home and moments I have screamed so hard railing at the void my vocal cords are raw.
Christmases fall apart. They do. Storms hide the stars and make finding the way to the manger seem all but impossible. Devastation doesn’t press pause for the holidays. Out of season tornadoes upend towns, sickness comes, violence still makes headlines and sometimes the night can feel so suffocating, you wonder about how to find the Morning Star in the midst of swirling black.
I felt if I heard, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” one more time I might just throw something at the radio. How do you find Christmas in the place of pain and loss that rips at the fabric of your soul?
I don’t have a clear answer friend. Except that storms never last forever. And the night will always be followed by a dawn. And the One who became a helpless baby is the Lord of all Who holds every piece of our broken Christmases, our broken dreams, our broken hearts and shattered places.
The most important gifts are never the ones wrapped under the tree. The biggest present we can give to each other in the broken spaces is the gift of presence. If your holiday is in shards, please know you are not alone. The world is celebrating and you are just trying to survive. He gets it. You are not alone.
There is no rule that says you have to be “merry at the manger”. You can bring your pain and loss, your disappointment and anger and brokenness to Emmanuel’s feet. No longer wrapped in swaddling clothes, His feet now pierced through with love; broken so He can make our broken places whole.
Emmanuel. God with you. God with me. God with us in the tangle and the mess of this fallen here and now that is longing, groaning for His Kingdom to come. We are not alone.
Wishing you beautiful friends a Christmas filled with Presence.