Christmas did not come on a stage.

I remember that Christmas like it was yesterday. Tragedy is like that, it weaves itself around you like a tangled mess of fear. Body covered with a paper gown that could hide nothing but the clean underwear my mother always told me to wear. I wasn’t in an accident. My mind was leaving me. I was becoming who I feared I always would be. The girl who walked towards the darkness. One exhausted from running anymore so she let it swallow her. Here I was naked in powder blue room with my dignity being written down on the clipboard the nurse held.

That Christmas we had Doritos on the table for dinner. It explained where we were. Where life held us.

When sadness comes and presses down its weighted blanket over you, Christmas expectations leave you paralyzed.

Yet when we realize that we are expectant of misconstrued things,

we realize our souls ache for the stable and not the stage,

it is there we hear the babies cry.

On days like today.

Weeks like we’ve had.

We pray to feel the straw on our knees. To be waiting for the King to arrive.

On nights where the pillow holds our prayers from the wrestling of his sovereignty all we can do is

wake and whisper honest truths to the one whose breath we breathe.

That Christmas from years ago still haunts me and draws me closer.

Closer to the stable. Closer to the cry in the night. Closer to the waiting. Closer to the peace that came. Closer to the pain that needed to come first.

Dear one, if you are in the pain. If you are crawling with the agony that pushes you forward and pulls you back in. If you feel like you are the only one looking for a place to rest. If you can’t catch your footing on the cobbled road.

Walk forward. Keep expecting the inn.

The stable is there.

Look around dear one.  You are not alone. The others are waiting there quietly crying with you. Bended. With knees bloodied from the pain that brought them there. Pushing through the straw to see that Peace has come.

Hold yourself there.

Quiet your mind and hear the voice this year you’ve been aching to hear.

Your KING has come dear one. He has come.

Draw closer to the stable not to the stage.

With stages all around us. The productions. The crowds. The money. The more. He is not there.

 

Christmas came through the pain and suffering of a mother.

With miles traveled in fear.

Christmas came through a doubtful father.

Dirt on their faces.

Christmas came with doors closed and strangers gathered closer.

Christmas came seeking a foreign place of safety when the world was sleeping.

 

Christmas came in the anguished screams on a silent night.

 

So sweet one. If you find yourself searching and alone. If you find yourself with doors closed and being turned away. If you find yourself foreign in a land that does not welcome you in. If you find yourself traveling thinking this is your forever. If you find yourself crying in anguish or doubtful that things will never change.

You have found Christmas.

Hold close. The angels will be singing soon.

RAW- guest post by Elisabeth Klein

 


excerpt from Elisabeth Klein’s Holidays for the Hurting: 25 Devotionals to Help You Heal

 

I know of a woman whose beloved dog died the day after her wedding. Life is funny like that. Every day, we gratefully hold in one hand joys and blessings that are immeasurable, and in the other hand, we begrudgingly hold life’s deep hurts and blinding disappointments.

 

Life does not wait for good timing to bring something our way.

 

And Christmas is no exception.  You may have just entered into a season of pain as the holidays started up. And the newness of the situation has left you not just unsettled and unmoored but raw.

 

You are raw in that you do not know how to process what has swept into your life.  Or you might be raw in that this thing – whatever your thing is – has rubbed you down to your core. It’s like wearing new shoes for a long day of walking and you can feel with every step that skin is being removed.

 

Or, like me, you find yourself raw because an old issue that you thought was either worked through or healed or at the very least buried down deep enough to be a non-issue has resurfaced, and it hurts, and it’s uncomfortable and you do not know what to do with it.

 

We cannot fix ourselves. We cannot heal ourselves.  We want to, because we don’t like to feel unpleasant things, and because we like to think we’re in control.  But we cannot.

 

I think of Mary in those very first moments after the angel left her, before she told anyone of the news of her pregnancy.  She must have felt stripped bare.  She must have been beyond confused. She must have been in awe.  She must have been raw.

 

And yet, bless her heart, her kneejerk reaction was to submit in obedience.

 

Let it be to me according to your word, she said.

 

In her rawness, she obeyed. In her rawness, she laid down her dreams for her life.  In her rawness, she turned her heart to God.

 

…Let the bones you have crushed rejoice. –Psalm 51:8

 

God, I am without a way to heal myself today. I cannot take away my own pain. I am bare before you, I am weak, I am raw. I need you. Please cover me and heal me.  Amen.

beth

 

Elisabeth Klein is grateful new wife to Richard, and mom and now stepmom to five. She writes regularly at www.elisabethklein.com/blog and desires to help hurting women by bringing them hope. You may order your copy of Holidays for the Hurting: 25 Devotions to Help You Heal here.

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What a ham, Santa and a girl from Pakistan taught me about Christmas

snowflakes

When I was younger my grandfather was Santa. No lie. He was. Every year at midnight mass Silent night would begin to play and from the back of church “Santa” would silently walk down the aisle. He would remove his red and white hat and with one knee bent kneel before the manger. I tear up now just thinking about it. How beautiful and precious that was. I know theologically it wasn’t perhaps right. But for the reverence it displayed it was exactly what Christmas is supposed to be.

I mess up Christmas every year. Flat on my face mess up. I do. I get anxious about not having enough money. Or no money at all. I get overwhelmed with schedules that seem to double three weeks before the magical day. I am paralyzed with the amount of people around me all the time. Talking and wanting me to respond. I am exhausted with trying to be enough for everyone moment of every day. And like today I am hiding in my house with tea and books surrounding me because my soul knows that I am getting it all wrong.

And when I am getting it wrong I missing the manger. I am filling it with bigger presents. And louder music and bigger productions. And saying yes to everything that is “Christmasy”. I am spending money on more things instead on things that matter. I am forgetting who I am and what I believe.

I believe that Jesus came simple. He came as a baby. Quiet. Bloodied in a manger with animals and dirt and hay. There was no big production. He did not come with crowned jewels on his head. He came a bloodied mess and left the earth the same way. And when we turn Christmas into a big production we miss him. I miss Him.

And so He needs to remind me. He needs to quiet my soul again and whisper “I am here”.

Every morning we pick up a little girl from Pakistan to go to school. She has been in the US for a few months now. It is just she and her parents. She doesn’t answer when I ask her about other family still in Pakistan. I have learned there are subjects and conversations I need to earn. And so I will wait. A few weeks ago we were waiting for her outside of her apartment building and I was feeling rushed. My entitled self-had no time to wait. I had things to do that day that I am sure were extremely important. Except for the life of me I can’t remember what they were now. I turned around to see what was taking her so long to walk to the car and there she stood. Perfectly still, in the middle of the courtyard not moving towards the car.

Mouth open.

Tongue out.

Catching snowflakes.

I had to catch my breathe.

This was Christmas. This was silent night.

In the simple. In the snowflakes on the tongue of the little girl from the Middle East who had never seen snow before.

And then just last night. I needed to be reminded again. By a nine year old neighbor boy from across the street. Standing at my door with a ham and boxed mashed potatoes in a torn plastic bag. He said that his mother did not know what to give us for Christmas so she gave us this ham. The ham from the food pantry that she stood in line for hours before to feed her family. The ham that was their best. And they gave. They gave everything they had.

This is Christmas. This is silent night.

 

I just stood there and cried whispering “thank you’s…”

I needed to be reminded of what my soul craves. What your soul really craves. It is not the more and better. It is the enough. It is the hard conversations. It is the folding of the laundry. It is for the ringing of the bell. It is for the red bucket. It is the paying for someone’s gas. It is for the cookies we never bake. It is for the sister we drive hundreds of miles to comfort. It is for the letter that we need to write. It is for the forgiving we need to receive. It is for the hot cocoa we need to sip with our children. It is for the groceries we help carry in. It is for the asking questions. It is for the slower mornings. It is for the saying no to really good things. It is for the grace that we lavishly give. It is for the prayers that we pray over those in our homes. It is for hearing when our friend says she is overwhelmed and not leaving her alone. It is for the games that we play on the floor.

It is for the quiet and the simple.

The here and the now.

The snowflakes and the ham.

It is the midnight mass with candles. It is the one knee bent to our savior.

This is Christmas. This is silent night