The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Christmas time changes when you are a parent. I have to be honest; I was not prepared for the rush of feelings and emotions that consumed me during my first Christmas as a mom. Our oldest son was just born, two weeks old on Christmas day. Due to his recent delivery, my husband and I were unable to travel and spend the day with relatives. So, it was just my husband, myself, and our newborn baby. And oh my, was I a wave of emotions! My poor husband could hardly keep up! One minute I was laughing from thankfulness for the miracle in my arms – then I was crying because this miracle was screaming and I could not for the life of me figure out what he wanted! – the next minute I was laughing and enjoying my husband’s company – and then the next minute I’m crying again because I’m sad…and I shouldn’t be sad since God just gave me this beautiful gift of my child…and I’m sad because I’m sad when I should be happy! Warning: don’t mess with a postpartum hormonal new mother who is spending her first Christmas away from her big family!
My parents always worked so hard to make Christmas a magical and special time for me and my brother and sister. I remember as a child, waking up on Christmas morning and feeling the magic in the air! My dad would put on our annual Kenny G Christmas music, and my mom would have cinnamon rolls smelling yummy and cooking in the oven. They would wake us up and we would all rush into the living room together, to see the amazing amounts of presents in our chairs and under the tree!
When you are the parent…it…is…very…different.
The magic and wonder that you experience as a child disappears somewhere between spending too much money, wrapping presents just in time, standing in the check-out line at Wal-Mart for thirty minutes, and hoping that your ungrateful little children will appreciate all the time and energy (and money!) you put into making this day special for them!
Needless to say, the Lord is challenging me to look for the magic and wonder in different ways. As the blissful ignorance of childhood fades away, and the harsh reality of adulthood takes its place, we have an opportunity to focus our hearts and minds on the true meaning of this season. And to teach our children that it actually is all about Jesus!
We took our boys to the store and allowed them to pick out a present to give to mommy, daddy, and their brother. They had to pick out the present, wrap the present, and write who the present is for, all by themselves. My boys are four and seven, so we had to help them a little bit. But the most exciting part of this was watching them wrap the presents! My four year old tackled that wrapping paper like he was on a mission! Way too much paper and a half a roll of scotch tape later, and he delivered a beautifully wrapped package under the tree! It was messy! But it was beautiful!
It was messy, but it was beautiful. Isn’t life like that? Life is messy. We are messy people, full of conflicting emotions and bold dreams and dark fears. We are never going to be able to control tomorrow, predict next week, or fully prepare for next year. We are messy. And guess what, we are beautiful! Believe me, God knew how messy we were when He created us. He knew we would sin and fall short – when He sent His son in a lowly stable in Bethlehem – when He died on the cross for our sins, knowing that we would continue to sin and deny Him. We are NOT mistakes. We are NOT messed up. God did NOT miss something when He made us. He designed us in His image! But He also made us human; we are messy. Life is messy. But in the Lord’s eyes, we are the most beautiful of all creation. The glorious mountains in the splendor of the sunset were “good,” but Adam and Eve were “very good.” (Genesis 1:25, 31)
As a professional worrying and control freak myself, I desperately need to hear this as much, if not more, than you do!
Embrace the beauty of the mess of life. Lay down your “should’s” and rules and expectations. Accept what the Lord is giving you. Stop trying to control the uncontrollable.
“This is not the way my life should have gone.”
“I did not expect this to happen.”
“No parent should have to bury their own child.”
“I never thought I would end up here.”
“I wanted so much more for my son.”
“I can’t believe my husband would do this.”
“How could a loving God allow this?”
Replace the “should’s” that you have created, in efforts to give you security and make you feel in control, with the “should’s” of the Word of God. Replace the “rules” that you have allowed into your mind and soul, with the “rules” of the Word of God. Embrace the beautiful, unplanned, broken, unexpected, messy life that God is trying to give you. For it is in the unexpected places – when we come face to face with our own frailty and limits – that we discover the grace and awesomeness of God. Thank God for the beautiful mess, for that is where we are taken off of the throne and God is put in His rightful place in our lives. Choose to see the beauty and gift in every situation, even the hardest of situations, when it doesn’t feel like what He is giving is a gift. Life is not perfect, planned, structured, static, or controlled. And the harder we try to live in a vacuum, the more we will realize how truly limited our control is.
The greatest gift you could give yourself this Christmas may be permission to not be perfect. Give your life permission to not be perfect. Dare to thank God for the painful things. Be brave enough to accept the life that you never wanted. And choose to see the beauty in the beautifully messy, perfectly imperfect life God has given you. And instead of asking WHY, ask “Lord, help me to see what you are doing and help me to get on board.”
And HOW do we do this? How do you thank God for pain, or praise Him in the storm, or find joy in death and tragedy? We can do this because we have the promise that our God is unchangeable, unshakable, constant, conquering, mighty, powerful, and He loves us. When life is shaky, God is our firm foundation. When life is unpredictable, God is our sovereign creator. When life is painful, God is our healing balm. When life leaves us deserted, God is our loving comfort. When life is bitter, God is sweet honey to our lips. How do you face the messy life with bravery? You take God at His Word. And how do you do that? You read His Word, find out what He says about Himself, find out what He says about you, and believe it! And let the living, breathing, Word of God transform your soul, that you may face this messy world with boldness.