Christmas, oh, Christmas.
I have a Christmas confession.
Lean in a little closer because I don’t want to admit this above a whisper: I am struggling to keep Christmas in my heart (to paraphrase Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol).
I write words that lead me back to Bethlehem and attempt to place me beside the baby in that manger and in the field with those shepherds and in an audience for the choir of angels. But, honestly, each time I finish writing those words and leave them on the page, the images and the hope they create dissipate beneath life’s circumstances like an early morning mist beneath the sun’s rays.
Too much of our life currently is lived in a state of overwhelm with circumstances that spiral out and away from my abilities and leaving me too often breathless and frazzled. Appointments with therapists, medication trials, high functioning ASD with its higher levels of anxiety and extreme rigidity in the face of change and transition, unexplained and unanticipated night wakings.
And all the time questioning what I’m doing and how I’m doing it and wanting a small bit of His presence that says, “Yes, this.”
Still, I seek that starry night in Bethlehem and the moment of God’s touch on the world. That moment of God with us finally coming into our lives.Still, there is so much overwhelm that my playlists bounce between one of favorite Christmas songs and another titled, “life is hard,” and includes a short list of songs on repeat: Jonny Diaz’s Breathe, Tenth Avenue North’s Worn, and Andrew Peterson’s Faith to Be Strong, Be Kind to Yourself, The Dark Before the Dawn, and The Rain Keeps Falling.
As I listen to the lyrics of these songs on my “life is hard” playlist, I find solace and a different sense of peace. Not a Christmas peace or a holy peace, but a life is universal peace; a peace in knowing that I am not alone in the struggles of this life and in this broken, messy world.
Sometimes peace doesn’t look like we think it will. Sometimes Christmas comes and our heart shifts between wonder and worry and between Bethlehem and brokenness. And in each moment and every breath there is Jesus: God with us.
Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel. Come to the hearts that struggle to keep Christmas and grant them the peace of knowing they are not alone. Grant them the peace that passes all understanding. Grant them Your presence: God with us.