There I was, standing in the “Holiday Market” section at Fred Meyer. Glittering ornaments and lights all around, music commanding a happy holidays from every aisle, and people rushing about me to gather up the ugliest sweaters. The nauseated look I had on my face did not match the atmosphere.
“I need a vacation from this vacation.”
This year, our Thanksgiving vacation extended into the end of the month while we were across the country. The trip was somewhat of a miniature tour of the east coast: Philadelphia, New Jersey, Times Square, Maryland, Washington DC. It was full of great memories with John’s family, but by the 11th day, I was ready to sleep in my own bed.
Before the wheels of the plane touched down on the tarmac from our 12-day trip through 8 states, Jackson had already asked when we were going to put up the Christmas tree. “I don’t know,” I muttered as my head spun with all we had to go through just to get back to my own bed.
Arriving to lights glittering throughout our neighborhood, we found the Christmas season had already started. Flopping suitcases onto the living room floor late in the evening Wednesday night, we quickly sent the kids to bed and off to school the next morning.
When you get back from a long trip, you need a few days to recover, work on laundry, get your life and world started up again. Returning home was a comfort, because we could return to our belongings where we placed them. We could manage our schedule how we want to arrange it. We can resume the familiar practices we have adopted there. It’s predictable, it’s comfortable and it’s our world as we have established it.
Driving home from dismissal that day, I heard the dreaded sound every parent flinches at: *cough* *cough*. Rubbing his runny nose on his sleeve, Jackson answered the interview questions. I discovered he had developed a cold. Thankfully that was the only affliction we brought back with us.
Ushering him to bed early and finishing off the grocery list for an enormously empty fridge, I sent up a prayer for him and thanked God we could get back to our comfortable life again.
Waking in my own bed the next morning, I felt confident that things would finally get back to normal.
…Except for the fuzziness I felt in my throat,
…which developed into a scratchy feeling, the more I swallowed,
…which came with a lot of mucus (a LOT of mucus). Jackson had shared his cold with me.
Now, instead of resuming my life as usual, it was once again disrupted. After sending the boys off, I downed some medicine and headed off with grocery list in hand.
But, as I stood at the grocery store, willing myself to be in the Christmas spirit, all I wanted to do was go back to bed.
I love Christmas, I really do. What other time of the year do you hear songs praising God as you shop for rutabaga? What other time of the year can you find a lit up baby Jesus in random front yards around town? This time of year is PRIME TIME for drawing near to God and gaining a better understanding how richly He has blessed us.
But I just was not feeling it.
In my inner wrestling these past few weeks, I felt like I had to catch up with the rest of the world or just hang on with the tips of my fingers to the season spinning out of control before me. I became frustrated with how Christmas wasn’t going the way I wanted it. That frustration boiled into how my life hadn’t turned out like I wanted it. I became so frustrated with being disrupted. I just wanted, for a moment, to forget that it was Christmas. I wanted my life to be normal, to get back to the usual way I had expected it to be.
But, you see, the instant this thought flashed through my mind, I caught a whisper, way in the back of my head, that said, “Disrupted, just like the first Christmas”.
Disrupting the Universe
A LOT of things were disrupted when God became flesh and lived among us.
A merely teenage woman would conceive a child (she claimed was God) before her wedding.
A priest would meet an angel, and his elderly barren wife would give birth to a son. His life would be spent in preparation to announce Christ’s coming.
An entire nation would have to return to their city of origin to be counted for a census.
Shepherds would awake to a divine choir announcing the arrival of Emmanuel, a tiny baby sleeping in a feeding trough.
Mary’s plans for her child’s birth… wealthy noblemen from the East looking for an adult king… an entire village of infants and toddlers slain before their mothers.
Disrupted, disrupted, disrupted.
None of these events occurred the way anyone expected them to. God broke through the flesh that so firmly kept us from him and immersed himself fully into the skin of a babe. And this story continues to disrupt our lives to this day.
Do We Need Disrupting?
In pondering such a tumultuous entry into our world, I realized that maybe our lives need some disrupting. Yes, that’s right. We need to be disrupted.
Left to ourselves, we carry on, day after day, stumbling step after step deeper into our selves and our worlds shrink smaller and smaller.
When Christ was born, light burst forth from the heavens and cracked into our world. The star shone on the Light of the World that would illuminate our darkness, our inability to see that we need rescuing.
And we do need rescuing, from our lives being all about what we want, from our worlds being all about how we want it and from our Christmases being all about the way that we want them.
What we hear more than happy greetings each year is “What do you want for Christmas?”
Is it about what I want? If it is, then I will get a delicious meal, some fun with family, practical gifts and a pretty tree.
If it’s not about what I want, but about what God wants, then it is a lot more than that. It is about God breaking through life as I expect it and doing something miraculous. Today.
Our lives will be disrupted. You can count on that. What you have to ask yourself is, are you going to open your heart to God in the messiness and see what He has in mind?