Wake me up when December ends
If you're looking for holly and jolly, move along. If you want something unfiltered, here you go.
If you ask me, we don't allow much room for people to be real during the holidays. We have very high expectations of the general population, regardless of what they're going through.
The cashier at the store doesn't smile.
What a grinch.
Someone declines to send holiday cards.
Such a scrooge.
Someone brings up a sensitive subject at a social gathering.
Oh come on, it's the holidays for crying out loud.
Our culture expects people to plaster on a smile and spread Christmas cheer. Society expects everyone to be merry and bright. We don't care what they're going through. Death of a loved one? Loss of a dream? Unemployment? A broken family? Cheer up, it's Christmas. Slap a bandaid on that bullet wound and drink some eggnog.
On behalf of the hurting and the broken, I'll be real. Every grief is different and I cannot speak for everyone, but I'll give you my perspective- December stinks. If we could just fast forward to January that would be awesome.
Now hear me out. I understand that Christmas is special. We'll get there. Just stick with me for a minute.
It is hard to care about the little things when my heart is hurting. The decorations. The music. The food. The gifts. All of my energy gets thrown into trying to survive and there is little energy left for the details.
What do you want for Christmas?
Um...for it to be January 2nd. Bah-humbug.
Social gatherings can be exhausting. Yes, even for an extrovert. Carrying on a conversation can be plain exhausting when all I want to do is go home and cry. When it takes every bit of strength to hold it together. When everyone is smiling and I feel so out of place, as my heart lays shattered in a million pieces. When someone asks a hard question, causing me to reveal my brokenness. When no one asks the hard question and I feel as if everyone has forgotten. It's easier to limit social gatherings to the people you feel that I can be real with.
The store is a breeding ground for stress. A crowded place brings great potential for exhausting conversations and experiences. More well-meaning questions about the amount of children that I'm shopping for. More parents screaming at their children...I'm not talking about discipline and frustration. I'm talking about people completely losing their minds and calling their children mean names, while I would give just about anything just to have another hour with my baby.
I lose patience for petty things. If I'm not careful, that impatience can evolve into bitterness. I have little interest in the shopping list, complaints about the long line at the store or the great What-Outfit-Should-we-Wear-in-our-Christmas-Card Crisis of 2015. Boohoo, you'll survive.
Making decisions is hard. Dealing with grumpy people is hard. Dealing with happy people is hard. Just dealing is plain hard. I've cried in the car, I've cried in the mall and I've cried in Target. Yes, big meltdown in Target. One moment my husband and I are discussing what to buy a family member for Christmas and the next moment I'm crying big tears over what I would buy if Ethan were here. (Thankfully, I have the most amazing husband in the world who affirmed my tears and agreed with a simple, yet sweet, "It's okay. This sucks.")
I began to question my intentions. I felt guilty for feeling so fed up with Christmas. Be happy! It is the holidays after all.
But then a realization hit me. I should not feel guilty for avoiding the westernized cultural aspects of Christmas, as long as I kept the main thing the main thing. (Although I honestly don't think it's wrong in itself to watch Hallmark movies or eat Christmas cookies.) In the midst of the heartbreak and overwhelming pain, the truth of Christmas has become more real to me. And the truth brings me comfort. In a way, Christmas is more meaningful to me than it ever has been before. Sure, I could go all year without hearing another carol, eating another cookie or visiting the mall. But the truth of Christmas has hit me upside the head.
O come, o come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.
Christmas is about God coming to earth to rescue his people and to offer salvation to a broken world. God's people waited for the Messiah to come. They faced persecution, slavery and tribulation. They longed for a king. They longed for peace. Jesus came to die on the cross, to set his chosen people free.
That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear.
Jesus came to offer hope to a world of heartache. He knew that the world was broken. He knew that the world was hurting. He knew that people were fighting to keep going. That is why He came. To offer rescue. To provide hope.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!
He came. He came to offer salvation to those who call on His name. He came and He is coming again. He is coming to conquer evil and brokenness. He is coming bring justice to the Earth. He is coming to wipe every tear from our eyes.
Isaiah 9:6-7 "For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever."
So many people are hurting this season and we need to offer love and grace to the broken. The cashier in the grocery store may be hurting. The person who cut you off on the freeway may be hurting. The neighbor that never smiles may be hurting. We need to share the reason why we rejoice.
I also want to take a moment to tell you all that I care. If I have been distant or moody at times, I apologize. My hurt does not give me an excuse to be rude, and while I've done my best to be pleasant I'm sure I've messed up a time or two (or ten or twenty). Please have patience with me and please forgive me. You are loved.