I went looking for myself yesterday. I do this sometimes when I’m feeling lost and numb; I go looking for the more hopeful, articulate, comforting version of me in the one place I know I’ll find her: my words. Lately I’ve been feeling sad and cynical and Bah-Humbug-ish, like I’m going through the motions of this season instead of really feeling its joy. Thus began my search for the me somewhere in time that had a better grasp on this whole Advent thing. I found this post that I wrote last year and it centered my heart right where it needed to be. I hope it does the same for you.
This is an edit and repost of a piece I wrote for Allison Vesterfelt last December.
A few nights ago, my husband and I went to a Christmas party. We sang carols and ate cookies and caught up with old friends, and to my surprise, a newborn baby found his way into my arms. Friends of ours just gave birth to their firstborn son a few weeks ago, and they brought him to the party with them.
Christmastime is a season of grief for me as I remember the last days of my mother’s life. It is difficult to reconcile the merry and bright with that sense of brokenness and longing, difficult to keep my heart open to the hope and joy of Advent when it is being swallowed by commercialism. But as I held that fragile, perfect, eight-pound peanut of a baby boy, the cynicism and cliche of this whole season didn’t seem so cheap. I looked at his sleeping face, felt his tiny heart beating against his tiny ribcage as I wrapped my arms around him and I was reminded of how Christ came to us: not as a fully grown man, but as a baby. He could have chosen to come to us in any form He wanted. He could have chosen not to come at all.
But instead, He chose to take on the full experience of humanity from birth to death.
He understood things like grief and government oppression and the mundane brokenness of everyday life. He has always understood it, but He chose to demonstrate it in the most profound way possible, by taking on the journey of humanity.
When tragedy happens, we want an end to the pain and oppression and injustice. We want to make laws and condemn people, we want to overthrow governments, we want to eradicate all illness, everywhere, forever. We want change, and we want it by force.
But God has shown us in the life of Christ that redemption begins with humility, relationship, empathy.
I find that so radical, so comforting, and it is this that fills me with joy in a season so riddled with cliches and catchphrases and commercialism. This is where I find healing for the hurt when I miss my mother or when someone says something terrible or when I hear that someone I love has lost someone they love :
That God saw fit to walk in our shoes, to put flesh on His love for us, to come directly into the darkness with us.
My hope is that we can offer that kind of hope to others this holiday season. Not the kind that offers any sort of platitude for their pain or any sort of policy to place over the brokenness.
Just empathy. Light in the darkness. Love in the flesh. Comfort and joy.