December 2, 2010

Blue Christmas

My heart has been heavy lately under burdens, concerns, and weariness. Although I've decorated for Christmas and we're in the full swing of Advent with our children, my heart wants to push pause on the coming of Christmas. I'm not ready.
There are expectations surrounding the holidays to be excited and merry, to be constantly celebrating with others, to do the perfect things with our kids to help them understand the meaning of Christmas, and to envelope ourselves in the joy of the season. I've never felt those expectations until now--when my heart is heavy-- and suddenly I understand why people say the holidays are difficult for some. Immediately, I think of friends and family who are struggling with illness, grief, and brokenness. Certainly they must want to push pause on Christmas too.

The gray cast of winter has hung in the sky for several days here in Charlottesville. But yesterday, as I drove home from taking my son to preschool, the sun shone through the clouds, warming my body and soul. I wanted to sit outside and bask in it, but the cold wind kept me indoors staring at the sun from the kitchen window. Today it's hidden again and there is snow in the weekend forecast, but I anticipate when I'll see the sun again.
I'm telling myself that this is what Christmas is about. It's not about ice skating in cute scarves and mittens at Rockfeller Center or being with family in matching pjs on Christmas Eve. It's not about lights or gifts or decorations or snow. It's not about feeling merry or having it all together. It's about people who have heavy hearts. It's about a little baby who came to redeem a gray and weary world. And it's about a hope that, one day, all of the struggles and suffering of life will end because of that baby's birth, death, and resurrection. All the things in this life that bring despair remind me that we aren't in control, we don't have it all together, and that we need Him. And one glorious day, the Son will burst forth through the gray clouds again.

My heart doesn't have to be ready for all the Christmas hooplah. But I need and am ready for the hope that Christmas brings. That is what Advent is all about.