The holidays were hectic around my neck of the woods this year. Between being run ragged trying to manage a bustling calendar of events and life happening full-throttle, and several postal delivery delays, and not being on top of my present-game, I found myself merely days before Christmas frantically doing some last minute shopping. I had a long list of names and was running low on inspiration, and several stores were closed (I'm looking at you, Harry & David) or had moved on and put away all of their Christmas items several days before the actual holiday (cough cough, Restoration Hardware).
I was burned out and tired and ready to be back home.
Christmas is my most favorite, but expectation was getting on my nerves this year.
I don't know about you, but when I'm exhausted, shame and judgement tend to creep around my shoulders, whispering into my ears with forked tongues and pushing down all the joy in my life. They love to remind me how I'm not measuring up again--words I've said, actions I've taken, things I should have done better--highlighting all of my failures and weak attempts, and squashing my peace.
Maybe you're feeling the sting of a holiday that didn't quite measure up, too. Maybe your family is experiencing some major changes--moving into a new house or town. A loved one is deployed. Or physical issues and surgeries have resulted in putting your holiday season on hold. Having a baby or preparing to send your baby to college. Saying goodbye to loved ones, or dealing with the loss of those who have recently passed away. Perhaps you've had some issues at work, or you're desperate for new employment. Maybe you are having a spat with a friend or family member.
Maybe you are dealing with a major catastrophe--I know in my own corner of the world we know people who have been diagnosed with cancer and passed away in a matter of days, friends who have lost their 4th immediate family member this year, and friends who lost their home in a fire days before Christmas.
They don't make those sorts of greeting cards for the holiday season.
So what do we do when our lives feel like my Christmas tree--a little dark in the middle because some of my twinkling lights have also decided they are done with this season?
I'm not sure.
I've spent my recent days low and quiet at my house, anxious to regain order. I've been gentle to my body and tried to eat, sleep, hydrate, and move more. I've slept in and tried to take it easier than usual--being thankful for a job that allows me a decent break around the holidays. My soul has been itching for creative release, but the words have been slow to come so I've been reading words that inspire. I'm slowly transitioning my home with winter decorations because hygge and Joanna Gaines are my favorite styles. I'm listening to music and drinking evening cups of decaf and quieting my heart.
I can't take care of the people around me if I can't take care of myself. I need these little small victories of getting through that entire load of laundry and running the miles on the treadmill and organizing one drawer of chaos. I need those small success stories in my days because I can't always fix the major issues all around me.
I cling to the words of Isaiah during the holiday season, his words reminding us of the promise of a Savior who will fix this hurting world. I cry when those words are read aloud because this weary world has been hurting for such a very long time. I find solidarity in the people of Israel, desperate for Someone to save them from the hardness of life. They were searching for something, too--and the first Christmas didn't meet their expectations, either.
They were hoping for a King and got a baby.
We know now that this Baby saved the world, but we have the luxury of hindsight. But we don't have hindsight when we're dealing with the present--we want remission but we get a funeral. We want resolution, but we endure hot tempers. We imagine greatness and are given a life-sized lump of coal.
These days shall pass, and one day we will look back upon these times and have the ability to understand why and how this season will be used for His good. We will understand why weary hearts have endured such pain. We will see how our stories have been woven together in such a way, much like the Old Testament leads to the Resurrection.
This is the Truth we must cling to in this season of lackluster reality.
For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn. . .