After my last post about ‘Discovering Advent,’ I wrapped up my evening – content. There was no Christmas tree in our room, but that was okay. I had bright pictures of family to make it ‘feel like Christmas.’ There were no Christmas smells – pine or cinnamon or ‘Christmas cookie candles.’ Not a problem! I was content. And rather pleased with myself for allowing myself to be content with little. Dedicated to pursue Christ and generosity and openness and love, instead of presents or entertainment for the Christmas season, I anticipated Sean’s arrival.
He’d met up with a climbing friend and had been gone ALLLL day. When he finally arrived home, well after dark, he said, “Close your eyes!” With a smile, I quickly complied, knowing that something fun was soon to follow and never wanting to spoil a surprised! After some bag rustling, I felt something prickly drop into my lap. Immediately, my 26 years of experience told me ‘Christmas tree!” Yup. After my agonizing time of what to do with Christmas? I’d surrendered everything. And been totally happy. Content without Christmas decorations or ‘stuff’ because I’d realized that’s NOT what Christmas is about. I’d been comforted with the Prince of Peace and challenged to be an instrument of Peace in my corner of the world. I didn’t need any little Christmas reminders – except my heart.
And then here plopped into my lap were ornaments, lights, a mini Christmas tree, and even a Christmas candle!
No shame in saying I cried. I was overwhelmed. My first thought was to give it all back. Shove it into his hands and say, “Oh no. Sorry! Remember when I told you I felt sad that it didn’t feel like Christmas? Well, I’m over it now. I don’t need the decorations.” But I didn’t. (Gushing sidebar – how awesome is this dude, this MAN to listen and react to me? What an incredible human he is.)
This happens to me a lot. I struggle with something – be it my ‘singleness’ when I was single, my desire for approval, an insecurity, hope of being reconciled to a friend, Christmas, missing someone, money, work, loss. After an arduous battle, I may surrender the ‘thing’ to God. Often I’ve tried handling it myself, journaling, working really hard to fix the problem, talking to a friend, etc. When that DOESN’T work, out of options, I’ll hand it over to God. In time, those ‘things’ I surrendered usually come back to me.
This phenomenon happens enough that I’ll even joke, “Okay, Lord, if I give this over to you now, want to just give it back to me pretty quick?” I surrender my singleness, a feel months later, Sean professes his love. I surrender my search for a job over Christmas break, two days later I get a call from Olive Garden. I surrender my desire for a Christmas tree, two hours later, there’s one in my lap.
What do I do with all that? Does this mean I’m supposed to have Christmas ornaments? Or that Christmas is about the candle? What am I to think of a Christmas decorations being given to me, so soon after I just decided I didn’t need nor want them?
I think “Emmanuel.” God With Us. God With Me.