Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Seasonal Perspective Shift

I can't seem to get into the Christmas spirit. It's completely a refection of my own attitude, and for that, I am disappointed in myself. I have never been the first to say Christmas is my favorite (in fact, it's actually Halloween), but I still usually enjoy the season of Christmas. I can't seem to pin-point it either. Is it that this year has been so heavy and difficult, that Christmas came at an inconvenient time? Perhaps, it's the fact that I am the poorest I've ever been so I can't afford even one gift for my loved ones? Maybe it's the 5 day streak of horrid rain that has put me in this funk. Whatever the reason may be, I want to be out of it. So, I will put on my Dustin Kensrue, "The Good Night is Still Everywhere" album, drink some hot cocoa, and wear a hideous sweater. If only, that actually worked.

I am complaining, and being pretty dramatic, I know.

My point in writing all of this, is that I've realized during the moments of trying to force myself into the "jolly spirit", I've been missing the point of this season. We all know the story of Jesus' birth, and we all know every line (or think we know every line) to Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, and O Holy Night, but that means nothing. I wonder if I will ever fully understand what it was like to actually wait for the Messiah. I wonder if I'll even come close to comprehending the thought of living without a Savior, and then He appears, as a newborn child. I don't think I will ever know exactly what it's like, nor do I think it's meant to be that way for us.

This season is a time of more than presents (praise God), more than picking out a Christmas tree with amazing friends. More than singing carols (in person, or even over the phone), and more than those moments where you wish that one person was there to celebrate this season with you. It's all of those things, but much, much more.

I'm in the middle of a phenomenal book right now. It's called "Bittersweet", by Shauna Niequist. (Mainly to the ladies out there - go buy this book. Seriously, it will change your life. Shauna is amazing). There is a chapter in this book that talks about Christmas, and she absolutely nails it. So, instead of trying to do it myself, I am just going to let you read it.

"Gifts, under the tree and otherwise"

This season matters. Christmas is a time when God's presence is more palpable than any other time of the year. It's also a time when what we've lost is more present to us, when the pain or the loneliness or the fear are more present than any other time. It's a glorious, beautiful time and also one in which even the smallest kindnesses can transform us. It's worth more than pushing and rushing and perfecting your decorations or your homemade cookies.

If what it takes for you this year to be present in this sacred, thin place, to feel the breath and presence of a Holy God, is to forgo the cookies and the cards and the rushing and the lists, then we'll be all right with cookies from the store and a few less gifts. It would be a great loss for you to miss this season, the soul of it, because you're too busy pushing and rushing. And it would be a great loss if the people in your life to receive your perfectly wrapped gifts, but not your love or your full attention or your spirit.

This is my prayer for us, that we would give and receive the most important gifts this season-- the palpable presence of a Holy God, the kindness of well-chosen words, the generosity of spirit and soul.

My prayer is that what you've lost, and what I've lost this year, will fade a little bit in the beauty of this season, that for a few moments at least, what is right and good and worth believing will outshine all the darkness, within us and around us.

May you find joy this season. Remember that every day you wake up, is a gift from God, and you get to determine how it goes. If yesterday was an awful day, how can you make tomorrow a more pleasant one? You can make changes. I am no expert on it, but I realized I was being a Scrooge, if you will, and I am making steps to change it. Even if Christmas is four days away. Better late, than never.

Merry Christmas, friends.


  1. Brenda,
    if you like Shauna you should check out here husband, Aaron's music. He's a worship pastor. Both of them grew up at willow creek and a awesome people.


  2. Matt Lewis?

    I've noticed she mentions that a few times in her book, I will check him out!