Christmas has always been my most very favorite time of year – always. However, I’ve had a difficult time mustering much Christmas spirit since my stroke.
Instead, Christmas has become a difficult time of year for me. Joy is elusive, sorrow and regret are all too near. Instead of savoring the season, I sit and dream of how it used to be –
This afternoon, mom, dad and I are headed to Winter Park to Wade and Kristen’s house, where we’ll be with Wade’s family too. All thirteen of us will squeeze around her farm table to eat, on the couch to watch movies by the fire, around the tree tomorrow morning to open gifts. It’s going to be loud and crazy and fun!
And yet, I’m holding back my excitement. Why? I laid in bed this morning for more than an hour, talking to God about it and noodling out an answer.
No epiphany struck, but I figured out something: I am uncomfortable with a Christmas of only receiving. I’m coming to Christmas this year empty-handed, bankrupt, and able only to sit and be served rather than to stand and give. I much prefer being the giver to being the receiver. Being a receiver only is unbalanced, uncomfortable and humbling.
I want to come to Christmas bearing exquisite hand-made gifts and food, the ability to serve others and wash dishes, clean the floors, and pitch in to help. Instead, I will receive gifts; accept the service of others. On the surface it sounds idyllic and even nice. But underneath, I feel unworthy, uncomfortable, broken, scared. The imbalance, the inequality is unstable and makes me feel prone to motion sickness.
And so it is with grace. Rather than resting in it, I find myself keeping score, grasping for ideas to balance the scales. I come to God with empty hands, completely dependent and in need of everything. I cannot strike a balance or find equality – there is none to be had.
So this is grace. This is salvation, this is Christmas. I come empty, broken, humble, alone, off balance and unsure. I can do no more than receive and be grateful.
Toben and the girls are in Colorado Springs, so we will not be together for Christmas. This too causes some instability, the inability to catch my balance, the wobbly feeling of unsteadiness, the strange roller-coaster twinge in my stomach.
Yes, grace is amazing – it cannot be earned, repaid, or reciprocated. It can only be received. And that makes it uncomfortable at times.
Lord God, let me be a gracious receiver this Christmas. Let me overflow with gratitude and love for you, for my family. O Jesus, teach me to be still and to accept, to see the beauty in the discomfort.
“Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling.”