Tuesday, December 07, 2010

When Christmas is a downer (or, why I love Advent)

The title of this blogpost totally seems like an oxymoron.  But stay with me.  :)

I am so incredibly blessed this holiday season.  Five sweet children, amazing husband, such wonderful friends and family, and we are really savoring the coming of Jesus this Advent.  We've started some traditions and the kids are eating it all up.  We're attempting to focus on the Lord.  We're also having a ton of fun.  And I have Peppermint Mocha creamer AND Egg Nog in my fridge.  Be still my Christmas-treat-loving heart.

Now that being said...I know several people experiencing pain and uncertainty right now.  Due to some big, scary, sad stuff.  So, while my own day-to-day life feels pretty charmed, I also have this sense of sadness that comes and goes when I think of them, and it somehow feels a little magnified during this Christmas season.  I tend to be an empathic person by nature (which most likely partly explains why I used to want to be a therapist) so I sometimes have a harder time just getting on with things, even if I'm not the particular one hurting.  It's a double-edged sword, I'm finding.

As a result, I've also been reflecting a little on the fact that the holidays are incredibly sad and difficult for many, many people.  I haven't thought about this much before, because apparently I was too busy celebrating with my Egg Nog.  Sad but true.  People are lonely or estranged or hungry or suffering from chronic illness.  And yet, this is the time of year when we're supposed to be, well, merry. 

How do we reconcile any of that?

Two nights ago I stumbled upon this article.  (And I really do mean stumbled.  As in, I have literally NO clue how I got to that website.  But I'm glad that I did!)  I thought it was so challenging and hope-filled all at once.  No easy answers, but good food for thought just the same.

There is a hope that we have, we who believe in Jesus, who are part of His church and who love Him.  A hope that transcends all of the you-know-what that we face in this life.  That hope is profound and while it can sometimes be hard to hold onto, it is there, and it is real.   

I've mentioned before that we host/lead a weekly community group for our church, and we are supposed to be doing a group service project soon.  (I say "supposed to be" because our group always seems to have a horrible time coming up with something to do, finding a time to do it, finding a kid-friendly thing to do etc.)  And in line with thinking about potentially-hurting people this Christmas, I'm loving the idea of visiting a nursing home, and actually making it a regular thing.  The sad reality is that many of these residents seldom, if ever, get visitors.  They rarely see children, or middle-aged adults for that matter.  It's easy to ignore and, truth be told, I'm terribly uncomfortable visiting with people I don't know.  At CHURCH, much less a convalescent home.  But something tells me that God doesn't care so much about my dumb excuses or insecurities, and that these folks should be worth it to me because they're worth it to Him.

Not to mention, how awesome for my kids to get to do this??!!  Putting love and faith into action.  Meeting people where they're at.  Making heart connections.  Learning from others with decades' more life experience.  (And to be honest, my kids would have a ball.  Really.  They are so precious in that they love to talk to pretty much anyone, whether they know them or not.  Their inhibitions are lower, which can actually be a good thing sometimes.  :)  I can guarantee for example that Biniam would be happily working the room in about five seconds flat, with that big grin of his.)

It only seems right that my ponderings about people hurting during the holidays should manifest themselves in action--you know, me actually doing something about it for once.  I can't cure a loved one's cancer or disease or depression (oh how I wish that I could), but I CAN seek God's face, and therefore redemption, in suffering.  I feel like it's all connected somehow.  So I'm calling the nursing home today.

And something tells me that's just what Advent really ought to be about, anyway. 

Expecting, anticipating, waiting for Jesus to enter and heal our broken world. 

I'm there.  What about you?


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