Sunday, December 25, 2011

Greetings from the dark annals of Christmas break

I hate break. I hate sitting on my hands while the guilt shatters over my head and rains down all around me, knowledge of all the things I should be doing with all this newfound spare time. I have an enormous to-do list, filled with ambiguous goals I have no hope of sticking to.

And the worst part is, most of it is catch-up, things I should have done before school started back in September, but couldn't do because I was working. Things like clean my room. Oh, it's a sight to behold! I have two boxes full of "junk" sitting next to my bed, things I meant to sort and take care of months ago.

You know what kind of stuff is in those boxes? Lots of random stuff. 

A pomegranate 7-Up can that Bryna wrote all over.

Assorted programs and ticket stubs from Luke's concerts.

My camcorder, one I have little use for since A Year of Questions ended, and the cable doesn't fit in anyone's computers anymore.

Paycheck stubs.

The former contents of my purse that got dumped in the boxes last time I needed to free up some room: I strongly suspect that's where my pocket screwdriver and favorite lipstick have gotten to.

Rebecca's book in hallowed print.

A stack of wonderful letters from wonderful people, gone almost entirely unanswered.

Oh friends, I have been so very negligent. I am so guilty, and my guilt overwhelms me. 

So much has happened in my little world, I feel so very different than I felt just last Christmas ago. And still, so much has happened in my family, and I'm so grateful I've been mostly close enough to see it unfold. But still worse, so much has happened in you and in your lives, and where I might have been kin in the knowning of the goings-ons, at least a supporter or an interceder or an encourager, I have been wholly absent. Too absorbed in my busyness and my meltdowns and my selfish needs. 

I am so limited. God, be infinite!

I hear there is grace for these things, but grace is not easy. I used to really hate Christmastime. I mean, I guess I didn't violently or vocally hate it, but I didn't really enjoy it very much. It made me feel sick to my stomach: all the waste, the excess, the indulgence. Blasted commercialism! Pathetic. It didn't seem fair that I was warm and happy and well-fed while others were shivering and miserable and hungry. This is an injustice year-round, but it's just so particularly heinous at Christmastime. And how could I celebrate a baby sent to this miserable earth to die? How is that a cause for joy? His coming brought the slaughter of numerous infant Hebrew boys and the wise men brought Him gifts fit for burial. This "tidings of comfort and joy" business always seemed so counter-intuitive to me.

And somewhere along the way I grew and learned and came to appreciate . . . hope. This is what we celebrate! In all the sorrow: a broken world necessitating God in flesh to humble Himself in crying, naked, vulnerable humanness . . . He came! God's promise rang true! A Messiah finally to save us all, hope for the conquer of sin and the death it breeds. Hope for abundant and eternal life. He came to live amongst us, to know the world as we knew it, to feel the pain as we felt it, to save us as one of us. His is a gift not just of salvation, but of the truest empathy, and does any hope speak more fully to the human soul? I've heard this truth my whole life; it's hard to speak in words that do it justice, but I see Christmas not in cynicism, but in hope.

That is to say, in grace, in forgiveness, in empathy I am armed. I have neglected people, that which is most important! But I can stand up under the guilt that convicts me, because hope is real and grace is coming.


Art said...

I so much connect with this! Experiencing grace as the answer to guilt. And I relate to having a hard time being there for my friends.

Thanks for sharing what Christmas means to you this year. I love you!

Nicole said...

Good words my friend.