Hope Outlasts Holiday Spirit

I felt like a kid Christmas morning. I was excited to get our son up for the festivities. I anticipated enjoying the stocking my husband filled for me the night before since he set it all up after I went to bed. It was fun to have a bit of a surprise waiting for me! I was also excited to text my midwife a “Merry Christmas!” note.

We dragged out Christmas morning as long as we could. Our boy was thrilled to touch, hold, and unwrap Christmas gifts. He loved his special Christmas breakfast. His kitchen dishes and play food provided long intervals of creative fun. Christmas pj’s got sufficiently dirty as he spent the day playing, eating, napping (and not napping), and enjoying a day he doesn’t quite understand but is thrilled to experience.

The weather was stormy, breezy, rainy and just perfect for a California Christmas! I loved sitting on the couch, drinking coffee with my husband, and just chatting while our boy took a much needed impromptu nap.

I received lovely gifts. We swept the floor (more than once!), crumpled up wrapping paper, and stacked empty boxes. Our son checked the tree a couple times after the big festivities were over, which I’ve assumed was his way of being sure no gifts were left behind or suddenly there. My daughter, 26+ weeks within, had a true party kicking and dancing Christmas night. How lovely to feel she is here, though I am anxious to meet her and hold her in my arms! I can’t wait to get to know her.

How filled with splendid things this Christmas has been.

But the older I get, the more stories I’m collecting.

The stories of friends dying too soon, or babies not making it earth-side. Or women waiting long with aching arms for a child in their womb. Or just the abrupt harshness of time that moves everyone apart and in old age. (And somehow that same time is so beautiful in its richness and gift!!)

In my own story, the beauty and happiness of the last two years is almost too hard to bear. I cannot hold it alone. This season is too good. And it is scary to receive all these good things and not be fearful of bad news. But God continues to be with me in all sorrow and joy. I keep learning to rest in Him, that I am safe to grieve and rejoice because of Him, that I can be fearless in both heartache and heart-wonder.

In our Christmas Eve service, our pastor spoke with such care on how somber this season can be as we ache for the presence of Jesus, His return, all things made right!

We cannot escape the jagged edges of a commercially jolly season. We wrestle with our feelings of sadness and longing. We feel at odds with the holiday cheer that has us down Christmas aisles and starting at lighted houses and trees. Everything and everyone we’ve lost is punctuated by the acute merry wishes everywhere.

This is life in a broken world.

And instead of fighting against the current which is too much for us(!), we can just take all of us and all of this to Jesus. He is not overwhelmed by what overwhelms us. Nor is He confused by these conflicted emotions of joy and grief, beauty and pain, tears and laughter.

Sometimes, all of these at once!!

So, we pour out our patchwork heart of Christmas and Easter, earthen vessel and heaven-turned gaze, praise and longing, contentment and cries.

The Hope of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection far outlasts the holiday spirit. It’s the only way we can even enjoy, deep down in our soul, the hallmark fringes of a holy season. And He’s the only reason we can turn to December 26, and a whole new year, anchored with peace and purpose. Whatever comes does so with the reality of God, too.

So, we breathe without fear of the future. And turn to God in our desperation when we cannot breathe at all.

Winter isn’t a lost cause. And spring will come. And our dusty summer hearts will be alive with God’s goodness and presence. Fall will break gently in, and we will look back and see the wonderful works God has done in another year earth-side! And Christmas will arrive once more, and we will be imperfect in it! Joy and sorrow hand-in-hand. Our souls will pulse with the history of God’s goodness and His gifts. . . both long ago and now. We will ache, long, rejoice, and sing.

And so it goes. . .

winter, spring, summer, fall.

But one day those seasons will end with heaven. And we won’t have to experience another Christmas with conflicted emotions. We will be with our Savior, Hope fulfilled. God with us. Us with God. Whole in every possible way.

Christmas isn’t supposed to feel perfect.

We’re not home yet.

But soon.

2 thoughts on “Hope Outlasts Holiday Spirit”

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