Wednesday, December 10, 2014

IF YOU'RE NOT FEELING MERRY & BRIGHT

I was all set to write about our CFA Christmas party from this past weekend, and I'm sure I'll get to that at some point.  But for just now, my heart is a bit on the broken and tender side and showing pictures of smiling people enjoying good food sounds like a forced exercise.

You might wonder if something big and bad is going on with us.  It's not.  We've had so many good things happen this year that we are a bit crushed under the weight of them, but we will recover.  We are weary, but life keeps moving forward and giving us gifts.  It's good - even when it feels on the hard side of things.

Christmas is one of my very favorite times of year.  I know its cliche to say it - but I love the lights, I love the music, I love the magic.  I do.  I especially love the part when the whole world gets out of routine.  When our lives align differently, and we try to capture the spirit of the things that matter most in our hearts and souls.  Because if we aren't going to try to do that at Christmas time, we probably won't ever try to do it.

Today I've been thinking about and praying for my friend Kristin who lost her baby Branch one year ago today.

Today I read this blog post from a woman whose blog I've read a bit this year, and they have lost everything in the past two years.

Today I've been thinking about the way that race relations in our country seem to be spiraling downhill, and the many voices chiming in on the subject seem to be screaming into an already deafening din.  That conversation matters a whole lot more to me now than it ever did in the past, and I'm a bit ashamed of that truth.  I wish I was more inclined to naturally align with the oppressed, but because that hasn't been my story, I've lived in ignorant oblivion.  I am repentant.  I want to listen more, talk less.

Today I've been saddened by other stories around us that are heart-rending and painful.  Real life always mixes up the good with the bad, but sometimes, it seems as if some people get an extra helping of the bad.

Quite frankly, there are plenty of distractions this time of year, and I could easily hit up my Instagram feed to start looking at pretty pictures of perfectly decorated sugar cookies and not let my heart become tired.  I could block out the suffering, because it doesn't all have to be mine right now.  And, even when I do let it in, it's second-hand.

Though I don't feel like I can do a lot about the things I see around me, that's just not true.  I can pay attention.  I can pray.  I can speak words of comfort and hope.  I can pray some more.  I can acknowledge that in this world we will have trouble, BUT - Take Heart! - God has overcome the world (paraphrase of John 16:33).  He started by sending down his son as a teeny, crying babe born amongst the animals in what was surely a smelly, unhygienic and yet still HOLY place.

I'm also reminded that

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.      Psalm 34:18
Aren't you glad?  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.  It's a good reminder that the closer I go to the brokenhearted, the closer I am to the Lord.  When I am the brokenhearted, I can know that the Lord is there with me.  He never leaves or forsakes.  What a glorious promise.

So, if you're feeling a little worn down and broken this Christmas when the whole world seems to be celebrating - know you are not alone.  Not everything is actually merry and bright.  But, there is a more beautiful and lasting hope there for the taking.

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If you know someone that's suffering this Christmas and want to send them a sweet gift, might I recommend a bottle from Bottle of Tears?  My friend, Lindsey, likes to send hope in a bottle and has a lot of different options to choose from.  Check it out!

bottle copy

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