When Christmas Isn't Perfect

It's the Christmas season once again and the war is on. It's a war between buying happiness, taping down corners to create perfection, attending every social gathering to check off success and slowing down to soak up the meaning of a baby in a manger.

I'm not going to lie, I looove Christmas. I love the twinkling lights, the music, and the smell of gingerbread. That said, I've had my share of less than perfect Christmases. There have been stressful holiday gatherings and missed family get-togethers because the flu has poor timing. That first Christmas was a little less than perfect too. A brand new baby with soft pink skin lying on a prickly bed of straw couldn't be considered ideal. Before that, though, there is the young girl, Mary, giving birth for the very first time in a stable. Somehow I don't think a Bethlehem stable would have been up to twenty-first-century sanitary codes. We have Joseph too. Joseph is on a trip back home to get his taxes figured out. I'm pretty sure it wasn't an ideal time for him to be having his first kid. Looks can be deceiving, though. On an imperfect night, in imperfect circumstances, with two imperfect people, perfection was born. Did you see that? Perfection and it wasn't you and it wasn't me, it was Jesus. This Christmas, let's quit chasing the perfection of perfect family get-togethers, Pinterest inspired wrapped gifts and magazine worthy Christmas dinners. Let's spend more time sitting in the presence of the Perfect One who came to save us from the exhaustion of being perfect on our own.

Surrender, throw in the towel. Let those dirty dishes pile up, buy that dollar store wrapping paper, leave the bow on that gift crooked and bring store bought cookies to the party because folks it's Christmas!!!! It's time for less stress and a whole lot more holiday cheer!

Unplanned Suffering

It was my final month of community college and just like that the thread was snipped and the whole fabric started to unravel. I became sick and not just an annoying head cold kind of sick but a too exhausted to even think kind of sick. Those last four weeks were filed with receiving different treatments, missing work, way too much "almost fainting",  and showing up for tests where I missed the lectures (but tried to read the book when I wasn't too ill).

This wasn't the plan. The plan was to work hard, graduate with grades I could stand by, and finish community college like a victor. This too weak to work, battling for a fair grade, and barely finishing classes was not the plan.

Why? Why did this happen? I don't know exactly but I know it needed to happen. It was God's will. God knows that this is best. So, I'm going to accept that. God says that all things work together for the good of those who love him and that means that this unplanned suffering is actually his planned good in my life. I don't know what's happening in your life, what grades are suffering, what job is unbearable, or what relationship hurts but I'm challenging you to embrace it with a new perspective. I'm challenging you to see what is happening in your life as what's best because it is God working good for a child he loves.

Yes, it has been a long four weeks but it has also been a full four weeks. Weeks filled with conversations because when you're laying around you have time to talk, you have time to journal, read, think, and pray. It has been four weeks to reevaluate and reprioritize. These four weeks were certainly not in my plan but I do believe they were the better plan. Honestly, I'd say they were a gift.

Broken Hearts and Silent Halls

She was writing about her daughter’s heart surgery and being in the waiting room when it hit me.  Sometimes, broken hearts must heal on their own.  Sometimes, being in the waiting room is as close as you can get.  Sometimes, pacing the hall is all the concern you can show.  Sometimes, their tears must be cried, pain felt, and healing begun in a sterile room with a sharp knife and a physician.  Sometimes, all you can do is plant yourself in the waiting room because there are moments when holding their hand isn't an option.

Life is filled with broken relationships and prodigals.  It's filled with others’ busted up hearts.   It's filled with an inability to mend the hurt we see.  Sometimes, relationships are only a tug on your heart towards a hospital room with a closed door.  The good news about closed doors is that they can open but the best news is that a skilled surgeon is on the other side restoring what is broken.

I've felt that waiting room ache and I paused after reading her words.  Relief filled my heart as the realization came that maybe I am in a waiting room and that silent, broken person I know is in surgery and this silence in the hall is good.

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