‘Twas the weeks before Christmas, and all through the land,
All the people were stirring, so many tasks still at hand.
The cards yet to be sent, the gifts yet to be bought,
Don’t forget the work to-do list, that too is a lot!
Funny, maybe, but how true is the sentiment behind this joke of a poem for you? A couple of Sundays ago, Pastor Odalis pointed out how the very things that may be stressing us out right now were the things we looked forward to when we were kids. What brought us hope and joy now brings visions of bills and time we don’t have (so much for those sugar-plums).
In that same service, I heard the Lord tell me, “You’re going to go through a dry season.” You can bet I opposed that idea and questioned the voice I heard as I tried to refocus on the message. But whether we choose to listen or not, the Lord will have His way.
I’ve spent these past few weeks cramming every Christmas event I could find for my family to enjoy in the midst of busy work days, appointments, and the typical Christmas activities of writing cards, shopping, and wrapping gifts. Growing up, my family didn’t have any traditions, and I wanted to do the opposite. I wanted to make traditions and preserve them, not for the ‘Gram, but for the kids, and grandkids, and their kids.
But for every yes we give, we say no to something else. Our family’s rundown bodies are proof, as well as the vacant spot in my living room where the Lord and I used to meet in the mornings; the price of my “traditions,” my dreams, the things I thought we had to do. This must be the dry season the Lord warned me about.
While recording for my portion of the Christmas service in which I read the passages about our Savior’s birth, tears filled my eyes. It was the first time this season that I sat down with the Christmas story, and nowhere on these pages were all the Christmas events and activities I’ve participated in. Not one.
“And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn Son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7
How many times — both as kids and as adults — have we read that passage and shamed the innkeepers who turned the Holy Family away? Yet here we are, thousands of years later and the doors of our hearts are closed as we entertain other ideas of how to celebrate Christmas.
I don’t know how long my “dry season” will last, but the other half of what the Lord said was that I’d “go through” it, meaning there’s a beginning and an end; I won’t be there forever, and I’m holding Him to it.
So how do we save Christmas? We stop. We stop trying to save Christmas. We stop trying to do all the things we think we’re supposed to do so we can save that Christmasy feeling. Newsflash: We may be sons and daughters of the Savior, but we are not saviors. Christmas was perfect to begin with and never needed saving. It just needs Him.
Maybe for you it’s not all the activities you’re trying to cram. Maybe it’s grief over this Christmas looking different than years’ past or that the season is a trigger for painful memories. Maybe it’s simply the pressure of trying to create that picture-perfect Christmas. Whatever it is, put the wrapping paper and scissors down. Breathe, and surrender your heart to be saved by the One who came to do just that: to save us…for the ultimate more: Him.