Christmas Expectations

My mom and I enjoyed some sweet time together this week. As we were talking, my strong dislike of change became the topic of conversation. My mom laughingly commented that I have strongly fought change since I was little. She is so right, change is extremely difficult for me.

Being an adult single during the holidays was never difficult for me. I lived with my family well into my twenties and both of my siblings are considerably younger than me. Christmases came and went and they were my favorite time of year. My dad and mom always made making memories a huge priority during the holidays. December was always the happiest family time of the year. Then that dreaded change hit. I moved away for a job and those idyllic Christmases came to a screeching halt. I still love, love, love Christmas. But, the touchy feely, full of memories and family time Christmas doesn’t exist the way it used to. And honestly, it shouldn’t. My siblings are married and have lives and families of their own. Change is a constant part of life, it’s just not the part I like.

Tonight, as I scroll through Facebook and Instagram, I’m greeted by the numerous pictures of my friends and their precious families. Christmas shopping, cookie baking, excursions to see Christmas lights, Christmas traditions, and unwrapping of gifts. I’m sitting in my house watching the Arrow while snuggling with my sweet pups. Don’t get me wrong, I’m EXTREMELY grateful for the house, tv, pups, etc. God has been insanely good to me. But, there’s still a twinge of sadness. There’s empty hole that just doesn’t seem to ever be quite filled. Though I’d say I’m pretty content with my life, the desire for more is still there.

Whether it’s missing the family traditions of the past or longingly watching my friends and siblings create their own traditions; the truth blatantly stares me in the face. I don’t have what I used to. I don’t have what I dreamed and prayed for. I didn’t ask to have dogs in place of a husband and kids. I didn’t ask to go to the movies alone. I didn’t ask to have to create my own Christmas memories (in addition to spending Christmas with my family)…alone. No matter how content you are. No matter how much your family and church love and care for you. No matter how much you actively trust God’s plan. Christmas has an uncanny knack of reminding you that you are alone. Until, the Holy Spirit gets involved. Tonight I was reminded of something very important…

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:22-23 ESV)

I’m not alone. And you dear Christian, are not alone. Your disappointment, your grief, and/or your pain are not carried alone. God is with us. He is OUR Immanuel. This life is full of pain and disappointment. There are countless things to befuddle, confuse, and if we’re honest, make us angry.  But, there is great Hope! Christmas reminds us not only of what isn’t, but of what is yet to come. It points us to the joy that was set before that tiny infant in the manger. The joy of His death, our redemption, and His glorious resurrection.

Christian, in the midst of your pain and loneliness, remember two things. The pain is okay. Don’t gloss over it or ignore it with another round of Jingle Bells. Be honest about it. Pray about it. Remember it’s a process. Secondly, don’t forget that Immanuel is walking through this with you. He is God with us. Our Redeemer. Our Great High Priest. Our Comforter. Our Rock.

Jesus the Great High Priest Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV)

Let me end with a quote and song that I encouraged me today. Merry Christmas!!!

And that’s what Christmas does. It reminds us that we are not yet in the time of uninterrupted joy. Our celebrations are always tainted by the reality that although the Savior has come, everything isn’t yet right. Sorrow is real. Death has not disappeared.

So in the midst of the joy, and perhaps because of it, Christmas is an ideal time to address our pain, sadness, loss, and darkness. For as Isaiah said:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” (Isaiah 9:2, ESV)

Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters

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