Monday, December 2, 2013

Confessions of a Christmas Grinch: How Looking Through the Lens of Advent has Helped to Enlarge My Heart

I have a confession to make: I’m a Christmas Grinch.  I honestly don’t like the holiday season.  As I watch my calendar fill up with expectations and demands, I find myself wanting to white-knuckle the kitchen table, close my eyes tight, and hope with everything in me that somehow when I open my eyes, it will magically be 2014.

It’s a season where I struggle with the music.  I’m constantly flipping stations and feeding my CD player so I don’t have to listen to Frosty the Snowman, Jingle Bells, or Santa Claus is Coming to Town.  “It’s NOT the most wonderful time of year!”  I’ve found myself yelling while driving to work after shoveling my driveway, scraping my car window, and leaving 20 minutes early so I can arrive on time.

Snow and ice are not my friends.  Darkness and I aren’t on friendly terms either.  I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and I usually fall about once a month on the ice; sometimes resulting in lingering pain. 

Winter driving is also not one of my favorite activities.  One New Year’s Eve I found myself in the passenger seat as my mom was driving me home from college.  We hit a patch of ice and the car began to swirl around and around like a tilt-a-whirl. In desperation, my mom reached out her hand to protect me and cried, “Oh Jenny, what are we going to do!?”  I sat up straight in my seat and silently said to myself, I guess this is the day I meet Jesus.  It’s amazing how much peace God gives you the moment you think you are about to die; I’m now convinced death is a beautiful thing.  Even though our car landed safely in the ditch and we went home that evening unscathed, I’ve lived in fear of the weather ever since. 

Unfortunately, I don’t fully understand the love language of gift giving.  I’m learning that a present is a way of saying to another person, “ I see you, I know the things you care about, and I want to reflect it in this gift,” but my primary love language is physical touch. I want to be held.  I want those I love to open their arms wide and receive me in their embrace.  No need to pick up something from Target—just sit next to me on the couch. 

My struggle with the Christmas season is why I love the gift of Advent.  It’s an opportunity to view the season from a whole different perspective. It’s the invitation to look through the lens of the gospel and remember three things:

Christ came:  Last December I found myself trying to grasp the threads on my bedroom floor carpet as I lay there shrieking with sobs and tears.  (I wrote about this in a post titled When Words Fail.) Children who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT had just been murdered and I couldn’t make sense of it.  The only thing that brought me comfort in the coming days was the knowledge that Jesus was born into a similar terror.  My Savior knew my pain.

Jeremiah 31: 15 A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.

Christ will come again:  Last week I wrote about the hope of heaven.  My heart fills joyful expectation as I wait for that great day.

Revelation 21:4  “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Christ is with us even now!  Whether you like this season or not; whether December brings you good news of great joy or a keen awareness of sadness and pain, God is with us now, near to us in the midst of this season.

"The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us").  Mathew 1:23

What’s Advent all about?  Check out this 2 minute video:

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