I am sitting in a winter wonderland this morning. A fire glowing in the fireplace, a latte by my side, and outside it is -2 degrees and 10 inches of snow is blanketing the world outside my window. The tree is lit, Mary, Joseph and Jesus residing on the mantle and garland running down the stairs. Our fridge is full of yummy food, it is warm and toasty in our house, and we have internet. If all is so well in my little abode why is it that this Christmas I seem to be in a state of such mixed feelings ranging from such joy to such sadness?
Could it be that I am finally starting to truly live like the movie, Inside Out? When I first saw that movie I knew it was a movie meant for my soul. For most of my life I have tried to live with just Joy and negate Sadness. I pushed Sadness out of my life on a regular basis. Like multiple times per day and in some seasons - days on end. I was scared to death of Sadness. I had no knowledge that when you push emotions out of your life that the emotions left standing dwindle in their ability to bring you into their very depth. So Joy and happiness became so much less lovely. In a nutshell my world was shutting down like in the movie. But God had plans for this girl and He would teach me to not be afraid of the deep darkness - the darkness that could permeate in the deepest places for months on end. The kind that leaves you wondering if you will ever be whole again.
I can remember the day so clearly while walking the Highline Canal at the very worst of that season. Crying along that path and realizing that my heart was shattering into a million pieces and I had no ability to grab hold of all the pieces as they were exploding around me. I was so terrified that the pieces would be lost. I can still hear the words that God spoke into my soul that day, “I’ve got your pieces, I will put them back together. I have you.” Those words spoken into me that day gave me the confidence and courage to journey on, to take another step, into the dark places, knowing that He held all of me, every piece. That no matter where I went, how broken I was, He held me and that He would put my heart back together again.
This Christmas is a long way from that walk and that season of brokenness, of despair, and feeling like I would never be whole again. God did put all those pieces back together of my heart. So gently, so compassionately, so lovingly. Piece by piece, day by day, week by week, month by month and year by year. My heart became a patchwork of His grace that still continues to this day. His plan of redemption played out in a way I never could have imagined or planned. And Joy came back, but it was a joy that I had never experienced before, a happiness that I had never felt so deep in my bones. For it was in feeling the Sadness, the despair, that fully brought me into the true depth of Joy and happiness.
I am feeling the widely beautiful, snow covered mystery of this Christmas, but I am also feeling the grief, pain and suffering this year. Our country, so very broken, our world being shattered with violence, children orphaned and hungry, family members and friends, fighting the hard battles to gain health and not loose to the ravages of diseases that surround us.
And I find as I wait in the tension of Advent that this is exactly where God brought his Son into this world. That nativity scene on my mantle that is so pristine doesn't tell the whole story. The story of a dirty manger, the stench of the animals and the hay for a bed. Jesus born into this world, into our very mess, our very stench, our very need. He was born into the dark to be our Light. I continually find Him in the darkest of times, in the darkest of places and I wait now expectantly because this world seems so very dark.
And as I continue to wait, I find the light. A light that can take your breath away with its radiance. I can rest even when it seems as if the dark will overtake me, because He was born for this,... and I am not afraid.