Monday, December 26, 2011

Advent Unraveled

I’ve had dreams where I’ve found a loose string in a favorite sweater, and started pulling & pulling until the whole thing was gone-- like being eternally stuck in a Weezer song.

Well, sadly, that’s a little what Christmas felt like this year. All these high hopes of changing the way we celebrate as a little family, bringing meaning and reflection & worship to our traditions, and giving thoughtful, personal gifts. Epic Fail.

It turns out that when you have a toddler, two full-time jobs, no childcare, grad school, a new house in need of repairs & a ludicrous amount of travel in your Winter, giving thoughtful, elaborate & personal gifts is rather difficult. When you add a very sick mama, followed by a very sick, sleepless baby to the mix, it becomes almost impossible. Then add five out-of-town [dearly loved] family members, three houses to travel between (with all the sick-baby gear), and you’ve got some serious anxiety & exhaustion. Then, just for fun, you run out of the supplies needed to finish said thoughtful gift half-way through & travel all over Orange County to buy more (I’ll spare you the details), and last minute (on the 24th) your pup gets attacked & winds up in the pet hospital with some pretty serious injuries (don’t worry, he’s gonna be fine).

When you combine all those things (and maybe just a bit of left-over childhood guilt & people pleasing tendencies), you might just end up with a full-fledged anxiety attack in the middle of the night (wish I was kidding). You might end up sleep deprived & worn out, feeling like a martyr & whining at God, instead of celebrating Him. You might end up reflecting on your Advent readings on Christmas night wondering why our King’s new Kingdom doesn’t look a little more like he said it would.

So, if anyone out there had any silly thoughts that this Professional Christian had her stuff together, I’m sorry to burst your bubble. It turns out that it doesn’t take much-- not a natural disaster or a life-threatening illness, or a major catastrophe-- to make me completely unraveled. No matter how hard I tried to pull it together, I just ended up a big mess, sobbing in the bathroom in the middle of the night.

And I guess that’s the whole point, isn’t it? I’m a mess. You’re a mess. This whole world we live in can just go unraveled, and no matter how hard we try, we just can’t fix it. We need some serious help. We need to be rescued.

And, to be totally honest, when I’m coming unraveled, the last thing I want is religion, or advice, or wise, pithy truths. I just want someone to sit with me; to walk with me through the mess, and to understand (maybe even without words) what it feels like. I want someone who’s been there to just be next to me.

So, even though I don’t feel much like celebrating, I have a deep & quiet sense of comfort at this whole idea of Emmanuel, God with us. I know that there’s a whole lot more to Jesus coming to earth-- all the theological implications & all that-- but right now, it feels good to know that He didn’t just watch from far away as a few little things caused me to come unglued. He got his hands dirty, entered this big mess we made, and said “I know exactly how you feel”.
Even though I’m tired of cookies, prime rib, and all the festivities, Emmanuel is something I can celebrate today.


Ally said...

christine, i am so glad i took the time to read this. i love your honesty and your depth in your writing, not to mention it just feels really nice to hear what's on your heart. i miss our weekly get togethers. i'm sorry this christmas got messy and was difficult for you, but i oh so relate to the truth of what it feels like when things unravel. really grateful for Emmanuel. love you so much and think of you often!

Samantha said...

Oooh I'm so sorry to hear about all this frazzle! Thanks for sharing your heart-- the mess AND the beauty! And for reminding us of what Christ has done! See you at Winter Conference! Hope it's somewhat relaxing for you!