Greetings! Here is mine and Michael’s Christmas card for this year:
And here is a more accurate representation of our family: (Tucker trying to escape, and us trying to smile while also making sure he doesn’t run and hide under the bushes just to be difficult while we wait with treats as people drive by and give us questioning looks because we’re outside in church clothes crawling around in the pine straw attempting to grab our furball like what happened last week).
Sometimes the holidays can be like that, can’t they?
We want the first picture. The perfect one. The Christmas carols are playing and the candles are lit and the tree is bright and so shouldn’t everything be perfect, just this month, if no other time?
And if things aren’t perfect for me at Christmas, am I alone in that?
Is everyone else having a way more normal and sugary and wonderful experience as meanwhile Michael and I work through newlywed lessons only learned and planted beautifully in the heart while forged in the heat of challenge?
If your holidays, dear friends, at times resembled crawling in the pine straw (probably not, but you get what I’m saying) instead of decorating Christmas cookies, you are not alone.
And I don’t mean things were negative or bad all the time this Christmas.
Lots of times this Christmas season, things were wonderful.
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow, dear friends! I am so thankful for all those good times!
I instagramed about our tree and cookies and presents, and we drank hot chocolate and sang carols and snuggled and laughed and watched the Polar Express and stayed in our pajamas all day.
But also lots of times this particular Christmas season, things were hard.
Michael and I were (and are) in the process of setting boundaries in respect to how we spend our holidays, based on what is best for our marriage – our marriage, the sacred beginning of our own little family.
Someone didn’t like – didn’t respect — the boundaries we needed as a young family, and it hurt.
The kind of hurt where you choose to genuinely thank God for His Son while you string the Christmas lights because you must choose joy when the emotion isn’t easy to find in the moment.
The kind of hurt where your husband sits on the couch and prays and wants peace with someone he loves but it’s just not in his control anymore because people have free will.
This was our Christmas, dear friends. Our second Christmas as a married couple. Our second Christmas as our own family. As one flesh. And I am so thankful for it.
It was a beautiful time. It was sacred. It was also messy.
But isn’t beautiful and sacred and messy the story of our lives?
And isn’t beautiful and sacred and messy why we needed Christmas in the first place?
Because who could rescue us from sin so messy, but the God who made us beautiful and sees us as beautiful despite the mess? Who could rescue us but the God who chose to come in the most sacred, pure, loving way: as a newborn baby?
If your Christmas was hard, I know it’s disappointing. It’s frustrating.
Especially if you wrestle against perfectionism (you’re in good company here, folks) and your Christmas wasn’t like the picture, it’s confusing, even.
Please know Jesus didn’t come for the perfect.
Christmas didn’t happen for the perfect.
It’s so much better than that.
Like a fresh breath of air, Jesus came for you and me. He came because we’re not perfect. And our situations here on earth will never be perfect, and so we can celebrate Christmas because He came!
Hallelujah, He came!
And so now, because He came for you, He promises when there is pain, there is purpose (Rom 8:28).
When you hurt, He is near (Psalm 34:18).
When you trust in Him, you will live with Him forever in a place more perfect than we can imagine (John 3:16).
Maybe this Christmas was wonderfully peaceful and bright and joyful for you. I pray it was! Michael and I have had those simply sweet Christmases, too, and I know we will again.
Praise God for those Christmases! They are gifts.
With a humble heart and by the grace of God, I echo this: Praise God for these hard Christmases, too. They also are gifts. They are. And you are not alone in them.
This is the promise: everything that happens will be used for the good of those who love God. The hard Christmases will be used for good, and the peaceful, easy Christmases will be used for good.
What an incredible God we serve.
Dear friends, I don’t yet see the purpose in our pain from this Christmas. I don’t.
But I do see little glimmers of hope, like little surprises in the tree: the smile Michael gives me when we pray together, holding hands more lately because we’re a team and we need each other, praising God with hearts freshly bowed at the Christmas Eve service because we can see more clearly now in the pain how He truly is our Comfort, Shield, Savior. The moments where we share hearts because we have to lean on each other instead of watch TV. The moments when we look at each other in difficult situations with eyes that understand and we just know. We’re in it together.
These things are all the little gifts God softened my heart to receive this Christmas.
I pray whether your Christmas was easy or hard, peaceful or chaotic, that God gives you eyes to look back and see the gifts He gave. I pray we’ll all have eyes to see the gifts He gives today.
And I pray we all have fresh eyes to see, and hearts to know the greatest Gift we’ll ever receive in Christ Jesus.
Peace and blessings to you and your family,