I've been quiet on these pages lately. Truth be told I have in fact been stunned into complete silence by some unexpected circumstances this Fall. I'll sum them up as discreetly as I can and then I'll get to my point:
1.) At God's direct instruction I stepped up to a Goliath-sized challenge in September. I worked hard on preparing for a big fight that was waaaaaay outside of both my comfort zone and my skill set, but the Lord called and I answered. I poured out my heart (and time and money) and when I went into battle I got absolutely drilled into the mat, end of story, game over, check please! Wait now, wasn't it Goliath on the mat at the end of that story? Yes, but in my story Goliath walked away victorious, back to his corruption and injustice, dusting himself off from the inconvenience of having to squash me like a bug. Um . . . Lord?
It sat me down pretty hard.
2.) Shortly thereafter there were talks that a significant undertaking and lifelong dream into which my whole family has been pouring our lifeblood for the better part of a decade will almost certainly be coming to a premature, incomplete, stumbling, screeching halt. This one is absolutely breaking my heart in ways I can't describe and I have questions for God but no answers. Lots and lots of questions . . . but zero answers.
This one knocked me down pretty hard.
3.) Finally, an important and ongoing situation which has been problematic for a long time but seemed like it had finally been resolved blew up again. Long-awaited, much-needed, freshly-established hope was crushed and I went positively sprawling.
So I found myself on the proverbial floor having taken, not one but three unexpected and major blows in short order - and I was shaken to the core. I knew God was in control. I knew He was good and that He has an important plan in process. I knew this, but I couldn't feel it.
And I couldn't get up.
All of this came on the heels of 7 years of hell . . . wave after wave of difficulty and stress and pain and uncertainty and trying hard but getting nowhere and always being so unbelievably tired. Then cancer invaded Daniel's little body and there was also muscle disease and other excruciating things I won't talk about here, and when this Fall hit with even more pain and disillusionment, I just couldn't get up.
I found that the stunning effect of these defeats had permeated me through and through and I simply could not get up. I tried. I wanted to! I knew I "should", but I couldn't find my equilibrium and I couldn't get my feet under me. I curled up in a ball and covered my head and waited for it to pass - this terrible crushing weight with its double vision and ringing ears and core-shaking discouragement. I felt terrible all the time!!!
Then it came. The criticism. The blame. The judgment about how long I had been "on the floor" and how I should be handling it better and how I should get up and what I should be doing instead of just lying there; like kicks to the gut of a man who is already bleeding profusely. Perhaps a sip of water please? But no . . . Wham!! Again and again the blows rained down bringing expectations and shame and I covered my head and my heart and I curled up as tightly as I could and I cried, "Just leave me alone!"
Anyway, that's the gist of the Ugly that has been running rampant at my house. It is sadly not what encouraging blogs are made of, so I have been quiet. I have been grieving. I have been depressed. I have been angry. Not hiding exactly, but maybe a little bit, and oh so broken.
Then as I lay in bed last night pondering all of these things in my numbness, I realized I do have something to say because while this is not the stuff of Christmas cheer, it is absolutely the stuff of Christmas
This . . . this mess right here . . . this ugliness . . . this inability to get up . . . this is what Christmas is for. This is why Jesus came!
He came because we are broken. He came because we are desperate! He came because, in one way or another, we're all struggling to "get up off of the floor" ~ and He knew we couldn't do it alone.
We like Christmas to be pretty; all sparkly and colorful with music playing and bells ringing and children laughing as they tear into the perfect presents before we all eat the perfect pie. These ideas make for terrific greeting cards and I'm not judging that, but can we consider together for a moment that Christmas was born out of ugliness? Jesus left His throne in Heaven came here because we are a mess! The root of everything that's beautiful at Christmas is that 2,000 years ago the mighty Creator of the Universe bent down to become "God with Us". We were heartbroken and hopeless - but He is Emmanuel.
The Lord is working on my heart this Christmas. Not to be better - not yet. Not to get up and get going - not yet. He's just being here with me - God with me.
This Christmas I am not alone in my ugly - and neither are you - because Jesus came.
That's what I wanted to say.
If you're broken this Christmas, I'm sorry for your pain. I'm sorry for your discouragement and your shame and I'm sorry that people tend to misunderstand and judge brokenness. I'm sorry that you're hurting, but it's never, ever hopeless.
At Christmas . . .
Because of Jesus . . .
There is more Hope than ever.
Because of Jesus . . . God is always with us.