I lost it in my favorite store, Hobby Lobby, this past Saturday.
I only went there to get some ribbon, but I left with a bad case of Angry Elf.
The place was swamped. Shoppers huffed and puffed when someone stopped–Heaven forbid–to take a second look at an ornament or garland or wreath instead of offering a polite, “Excuse me.” I’m pretty sure at least two toddlers had skid marks on their foreheads from the cart wheels of patrons who ran over them on their way to the burlap aisle. Cell phones rang and wallets jingled and people pushed and clawed and shoved and growled, even as they threw Nativity sets and Christmas cards and smiling snowman ornaments into their overflowing carts.
Buzz kill: Humanity has turned the whole season into a drunk fest, and too many are ostracized from the party.
I have a thousand reasons why the holidays trigger my anxiety and depression and make me feel like a dried up, prickly old Frasier Fur ready for the mulching machine. My husband and I have/had people in our extended families who make Princella–a character in my novel, How Sweet the Sound–look friendlier than a Teletubby. Surviving and spending more than a decade working to heal from abuse is one thing. Being made to feel like you’re responsible for everyone’s holiday misery because you believe in breaking generational cycles of pain is even worse. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of my own stuff. So many others carry so much more.
Can we not?
Can we just not pretend
Can we not expect
broken friends and family to behave the way we think they ought to this season in order to assuage whatever personal hangups hide beneath those expectations? And can we not expect so much of ourselves, either?
Can we think
before we send perfect Christmas cards and accomplishment letters touting whole, intact families to people who’ve lost children or spouses or health over the past year? Or to folks who never had any of that in the first place? (Read Kay Warren’s poignant message about how much this hurts, in case you think I’m being harsh.)
Can we, for God’s sake, remember
came for the dying, not the living,
for the ugly and discarded and not the Pinterest perfect
is with us in our pain and not our sparkly decor
that a day
does not for one minute turn lies into truth
or broken into whole
Can we not?
There is nothing attractive about our choruses and glitter
Nothing silver and our sleigh bells can do to hide the cacophony of chemo dripping into cancer veins
No amount of holly we can haul out to cover the downtrodden, hurting, and lonely
labored itself into flesh
the dull and discarded and dying.
The Prince of Peace
didn’t need a chorus of angels or a shiny star or a barrage of wise men bearing fancy gifts.
He only needed a trembling, terrified teenage girl
people thought was a slut
because she conceived
The Lamb of God
only needed to know pain
to bear ours.
The Holy One
only needed to be misunderstood
to be a Savior.
The Lion of Judah
only needs us
this season and always
to come to Him.
Not to the mall, to the party, or even to the table.
Are you broken?
Give Him your pieces.
Are you dying?
Press yourself into his broad-shouldered love embrace.
Are you a mess?
He doesn’t wait for us to be perfect.
In fact, the whole reason He came was for the uninvited, the unattractive, the passed over, the misunderstood, the suffering, the mourning, the hurting, the grieving, the hiding, the ones who have nothing to give–like the song in the video below says–besides a stone cold vacancy, a trembling soul, a heart on its knees before the Holy One.
Christmas is born in you,
chosen for you,
The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
Isaiah 53:2-6 (TMV)