Image by Tim Samoff. Creative Commons.
Christmastime is full of expectations. I am not referring to the expectation of a Messiah. I am referring to all of the pressure that we put upon ourselves.
We want to have to have festive get-togethers with friends, memory-making family time, a Better Homes and Gardens-decorated house, perfect gifts for everyone, and few warm-and-fuzzy, nostalgic moments for ourselves. Basically, we try to pack into one fleeting season all of our expectations for what we think life should be.
But the season usually throws us a few curveballs. Work is stressful or you are unemployed. The house is a mess and there is no time for decorating. Your mind is focused on the empty chair around the table, a deceased loved one or a wayward child. Shopping is an absolute joy killer. The kids are being brats. And you feel more like the Grinch than Santa.
No wonder the season is filled with disappointments, depression, loneliness, and frustration as our expectations collide with reality.
This Christmastime finds me trying (against all odds) to get a book published. Currently, I am waiting a friend who is rescuing me from my frustration in text formatting. My self-imposed expectation is to get it published before Christmas. I hope it happens!
Following my folks’ physical and mental decline from many miles away is one of the greatest stresses I have ever felt. I have experienced about every emotion there is dealing with them lately; sometimes in the same day. I have been frustrated and angry that they have procrastinated for so long to make important decisions about their living arrangements and their affairs, making things much more difficult for all of us. I have tried to keep my Mom calm as my Dad’s behavior has become more difficult as he shows strong signs of dementia. I am doing all I can to persuade them to relocate where they have some help. Certainly, they are no longer safe living alone.
I have thought about how they have little time left and how I don’t have all that much either. I have thought about things I am trying to do differently than them, and how much I am like them.
There are several other stresses pulling at me different directions, like we all have. And it is all happening with a backdrop of carols, colorful lights, and festivities. Weird!
Of course Christmas One wasn’t all angels and shepherds. It was also, oppressive taxation, cruel occupation, an untimely pregnancy, an unmarried mother, and being born in a barn (literally).
It must have been a feeling of faith and elation mixed up with a lot of very harsh reality and doubt.
Yet, through it all, we got to see God up close and personal and find out he has a special place in his heart for people who live on the edge, with the tension of uncertainty, doubt, wounds, and personal failure.
In the midst of the mess, we believe, and he are inspired us to live like we are part of a greater story.