Advent, Christmas, Grace, Struggle

What’s Christmas Supposed To Look Like Anyway?

What’s Christmas Supposed To Look Like Anyway?

What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.~Dr. Seuss

Angel

This Christmas doesn’t look like what I thought it would. I went into Advent thinking I was going to have my heart and head in it, preparing him room, singing Christmas carols and prancing around the tree, as I hung ornaments and sipped hot mocha’s surrounded by all of the twinkling lights. I wish this were true. Instead, things look quite different. The trimmings are indeed all up. My husband worked hard one afternoon to string the lights up all around the outside of the house, and it looked amazing. For the first night. Then one strand went out.

He replaced it with another.

Then another strand went.

And another.

And another.

So far, we have lost nine strands of brand new lights just purchased last year. So now they are shut off. If you drive by here at night, what you will see are simply the candles in the windows, small, little glowing orbs of yellow tucked on the sils, and a lit up Jeruselem star on the porch. That wasn’t the plan. It was supposed to be a lot more- it was supposed to be brighter.

Inside, it’s not much better. I decorated the tree with my children, but spent a good portion of time chastising them for acting like monkeys and knocking around my ‘precious’ ornaments. There’s some Christmas spirit for you. I havent sung Christmas carols because my voice is slipping and frankly, it’s hard right now to utter the words. Worship in the midst of this chaos is just proving to be harder for me this year. I know I have so much to be thankful for, and I know that worship in times of struggle is the sweetest kind. I have lived through the glory and joy that comes with singing through the tears before. And yet, my lips just tremble and my throat goes so chokingly dry as I try to whisper the words. Our tree refused to sip water and has become brittle and droopy. The ornaments are actually falling off of the tree, and If I wasn’t so perturbed about it, I might laugh, but right now, the way things are falling down around here, it’s hard to find the humor in it.  As I spoke to my Mom about the shape of things around here, we decided that perhaps all of this, is just a shifting of focus. Maybe we have invested too much in the trappings. I keep saying I want Christmas to be about Christ and in every way I have just stuffed him back in the manger on the shelf.

I have built up expectations for this season and as is often the case with expectations, life plays out differently and I am left dissapointed. But that’s not God’s doing. It’s my own. 

Perhaps all of this shifting and crumbling of the stuff that makes Christmas feel like Christmas is meant to get my attention. Christ came not with fanfare and twinkling lights adorning the place of his birth. He came humble- dirty, tiny, helpless, birthed from a virgin into a pile of hay. There was no glamour there. Mary was just a young girl, chosen for this huge thing and when the time came, God provided for them, of course he did, but it wasn’t what they expected, I’m sure. Things rarely turn out looking like we imagine. Our vision of life is so increadibly short-sighted, one-sided- ignorant of so much else going on.

I haven’t experienced this season the way I wanted to. I have held onto expectations that are slipping and falling off. For all of my good intentions I have failed on multiple levels. My attitude has been dim and narrow. My heart has been crammed full of junk that blocks the way. My lips crack and burn with any effort to praise and worship, and I am only now begining to see Him in this. Christmas is about Him. The lights, the tree, the endless baking- none of that really ought to matter. If it detracts from the true spirit of the season, it must be laid aside. The truth is, I have been anything but Christ-like. I have been irriable, and pouty. I have wallowed in my frustration and dissapointment over too many foolish things and I have been so tragically distracted from what Christmas is supposed to look like.

But joy came into the world and walked here. He came because I am broken and falling down. He came because He knows how misaligned my expectations are with reality. He came to make the blind see, to raise the lame to their feet, he came casting aside his holiness to live as just a person. A humble human, amid the filth and depravity of this world, a little God-baby born in secret, in the dark-to a woman pregnant out of wedlock.

This is the reason. This is what I see.

Christ looks nothing like we expect him to; A king among theives, a prince among prostitutes, a God for the godless. This whole world spins upside down on God’s axis. Less truly is more and we give in order to recieve. When we get low, he raises higher and we are blessed by his light when we walk in the darkness.  In struggles we grow. When he allows the squeezing preassures of this world, we don’t shatter, we bloom.

It matters little if my house lights up in the night with the hundreds of watts of man -made glow. What matters, the only thing that matters right now, is whether my heart lights up in his presence, because it should.

If our tree stands naked and brittle in the center of the room, perhaps that’s more of what Christmas should look like anyway.

Isn’t that how he wants us to come? Without the cover of stuffus all pregnant, cracking wide with expectations, laying down in the filth here of this broken place, awaiting the joy that will burst forth in our lives as usher Him in.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.  ~Charles Wesley

Walking with Ann and others as we discuss the practice of preparing…

 

Comments

    1. Anonymous

      Thank you for encouraging me to say the hard things. You know those science videos where they show the chunks of Iceburgs cracking hard and loud and crashing into the ocean? That is what hitting “publish” felt like today. Just that giant free-fall into the ocean of God’s good grace, where he’s always waiting for me, and where I am always afraid to leap-
      Have I told you how much I love you?! XO

      Reply
  1. Anonymous

    So true….seems like we trade in what Christmas should be about…for what the world tells us it’s about!  Instead of upside down, right side up, which is really the opposite of what it should be!!!

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      I get dizzy in this spinning madness. I just want to be still and wait for His coming. Today, I feel the joy slipping in, thank God, I do feel it coming slow…

      Blessings, friend. Thank you for stopping by here today.

      Reply
  2. Amy Hunt

    Oh, friend! Oh! Your heart and mine are very similar this season, yes! You’ve commented to me that my posts touch your heart, and now yours do the same for me. I’ve been wanting to *feel* more in it, and I’ve wanted more lights adorning my house…but, it’s the simple still voice inside that calls me to rest in His truth, whether I feel it or not. Oh how I DO hope we visit this side of Heaven–sipping tea and honey. Rich blessings and you See, my friend. 

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Amy~ Thank you for kindness, for these words of understanding, I *feel* it, the knowing that we have for each other’s struggles… I am thankful we can walk side-by-side in this cyber wolrd, bringing warmth and friendship through screens and ones and zeros that roll on endlessly… Let’s pray God allows for the meeting, and the tea sippings- It’s a small prayer, yes? 😉 Many blessings, my sweet friend.

      Reply
  3. I’ve been pondering the Christmas conundrum lately as well. I think the seasonal winter celebration that has become Christmas in America and the celebration of Advent, Emmanuel, God with us, really are two separate things. Both good. But I think we put too much stock in this seasons festivities to usher us to Jesus, it is what it is, a sweet time of beauty and love, enchantment and frolic. And unfortunately as Christians I find we, including myself, shove Jesus into a space relegated for worship once a year. Perhaps we were meant to celebrate the advent of God in flesh, come to save, all year. How can we rejoice in Emmanuel, living flesh touching the lepers and prostitutes, God come to heal our brokenness, hope for widows and orphans, how can we celebrate that fully as it deserves in just four or five weeks? Were we meant to? What if we liberated Jesus’ birth? What if Christmas wasn’t about keeping Christ in Christmas but liberating him from it. Celebrating Jesus year round as a lifestyle is the goal of worship anyway isn’t it? Oh I feel your disappointment and frustration! Let’s not be too hard on ourselves, let’s breath in his grace. Let’s purpose to remember Emmanuel, let’s kneel at the manger and at the cross and turn expectant eyes heavenward, all year!

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Thanks, Beck. I’m with you. “Let’s purpose to remember Emmanuel, let’s kneel at the manger and at the cross and turn expectant eyes heavenward, all year!”

      Amen, my friend. Amen. Marry Christmas, sweet Beck. God with us. 

      Reply
  4. Ro elliott

    thanks for you honesty here…Christmas journey is one we zig and zag along…trying to find our way… over all these years… I am not certain we will never fully land at a peaceful place on the how to celebrate Christmas…but I am certain…He will meet us every step and answer our questions and change our hearts along the way…
    Blessings as you travel with Him…celebrating Him…

    Reply
  5. I so appreciate your heart and your honesty and transparency here.  Although I do have lights outside my home, a tree that is alive with ornaments safe and secure on it’s branches, in many ways, I too feel most days I am falling apart.  I am “being strong” and “keeping things together”, trying to do everything that I feel needs to be done to keep up with hustle and bustle of the season.  So I thank you.  Jesus doesn’t care about our fanfare.  He didn’t have any when He came.  I wrote something similar on my blog today.  But your words here have pierced my heart!

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Barbie~ lets you and me decide to stop pretending we have it all together, eh? Let’s just 
      s l o w way down and sit by the tree, read HIS story and remember the truth this season- He’s the truth. He’s the reason.  And you’re right, he doesn’t care about the ‘fanfare’ as you say… Bless you always, my friend. 

      Reply
  6. It’s hard when we put so much into expectations, isn’t it? The nation of Israel waited for a King – He came but they didn’t recognize Him. Their expectations were not what actually happened. I like the way you moved in your post from what you expected to what maybe you should accept.

    We have moved away from the gifts expectations and give to Jesus instead – less pressure and more joy. We celebrate with all our grown family a week early so there is no expectation for everyone to be together on “Christmas Day”. No pressure – a calmness to welcome the coming of our Saviour.

    God only wants a relationship with us. The trappings are man-made – the joy is for us from Him.

    Have a blessed Christmas,
    Jan

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Jan~ I have been missing hearing from you. It wasn;t too long ago that you came to mind… how are you?  Thank you for weighing in here. You are right, “The joy is for us, from Him”…. Praying that moves from my head to my heart as I wade through… God bless you sweet friend, and Merry Christmas indeed! 😉

      Reply
  7. I am just now catching up on blog reading this week…Kris, this truly, truly is the reason for the season, the heartbeat of Christmas. Of Him. Oh, how I needed this reminder! I can identify so much with the thoughts and emotions you described so eloquently. I love how He used your brokenness and struggle to showcase His heart. He always does it that way, doesn’t He? Shows up in ways that we least expect, and it opens our eyes and melts our hearts?

    You’re a gift. Naked tree, “dim” house and all…you shine brightly in the darkness. 🙂
    Blessings, sweet friend!!!

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Ashlie~ Thank you. YES, he always shows up in the darkened places and when we least expect it. perhaps eventually I will push past the doubt forever, I want to walk always in His light, regardless of my own dim perceptions. Thank you, sweet friend.

      Reply

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