Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Merry Christmas (with a Side of Disappointment): The Gift You've Always Wanted

If you've been one of those people who just keeps thinking, "It just doesn't seem like Christmas. I can't believe it's only fifteen days away," think those thoughts no more. The true sign of the season has finally arrived. There is puking at the Bond house. If you don't believe that it's not Christmas without upchucking over here, just check here for proof. Fever has also been present and Christmas celebrations have been missed, so let the holidays begin!

I suppose it's because Christmas brings with it such high expectations, what with "it's the most wonderful time of the year" ringing in your ears all day and night, that it often comes with such great disappointments. Yes, I know, welcome The Grinch. But it's true. Think of the stress that accompanies the hustle and bustle, or the sadness that comes with a lack of activity for some. We've either got too much going on or the areas that lack in our lives stick out like a sore thumb.

On a brighter note, I've got lots of my shopping done! And it didn't even feel like work. Of course, now I've been lulled into a false sense of completion, which means a few days before Christmas, I'll hit panic mode as I realized I still have a few things to buy.

And even more exciting than my to-buy list growing short is the fact that I bought myself a little something exciting. Yes, in the midst of Christmas errands, Sam and I made a little stop at TJMaxx, where I purchased my first pair of jeggings. I feel a little dirty just typing that. You could say I'm not really a likely jeggings-wearer. I actually went in search of a pair of skinny jeans to wear with some boots I may or may not be getting for Christmas, because it would be a travesty for the last person in the U.S. to get a pair of tall boots to receive them and then not have the appropriate pants to wear with them. But, unknowingly, I picked up and tried on pants that I later came to realize say "Jeggings" inside. I was a little horrified, but I had decided they looked the best before I was aware of their unfortunate label. So, you may or may not see me wearing jeggings in public in the near future, but if you do, hopefully you'll just think I'm wearing jeans.

If it hadn't been so many days ago when I made the questionable pants purchase, I might think that Sam having to watch his mother try on jeggings had caused the puking last night. Fortunately, the two experiences are separated by enough time that I think the jeggings aren't at fault. So I'm wondering....why must unexpected puking always occur during the middle of the night? Puking is just plain horrid no matter when it happens, but when you get awakened from what you expect to be a peaceful night's sleep to find vomit in all kinds of places it shouldn't be, it makes the vomit seem so much worse than it already is. Then you're left with a sick kid in your bed, which means you can't sleep because you're constantly trying to anticipate the puke and you're trying to lie beside an infected person and not breathe the air.

Tis the season to be puking...
Fa la la la la, la la la la ...

Unfortunately, the vomit came on the heels of another kid having the lovely crud. Jack was just sick enough to cause me to miss the middle school's performance of Godspell (which Maddie participated in by sitting in the sound booth and wearing the official t-shirt, all under the ruse known as Tech Team), a free all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast where I didn't have to cook, another week of church, our Sunday night family potluck/Bible study, and...

dun, dun, DUN...

my favorite Christmas party of the year (except for the party I'll go to where I'll see YOU).

Sigh.

Not that I'm concerned at all about missing anything because I'm a wonderful mom who is much more concerned for the well-being of her children than any old Christmas party. (No. I don't think my nose looks any longer. Why do you ask?)

And so I've talked myself in a big circle, and I'm right back where I started. High expectations often equals great disappointment. But the Lord, as He is such an expert at doing, is redeeming my disappointment. It's not as fun as a Christmas party, but it can be much more valuable, if I'll allow it to be.

In years past, I've been so burdened with experiencing the true meaning of Christmas in our family and in my life, and that's usually fleshed itself out in Bible reading and, hopefully, showing love to others. This year, it seems the Lord has something different in mind, though it's a lesson I'm constantly learning. It is the sufficiency of His grace and the satisfaction that only comes through Him.

Paul speaks often of sharing in Christ's suffering so that we can share all the more in His glory. I don't like those verses so much. They often leave me fearful of nameless suffering to come and wondering if I know Christ at all, because of the lack of suffering in my life as compared with so many others in this world. But as I was at home with a sick kid, doing the everyday, life-sucking tasks of laundry and dish washing rather than partying, I realized that, in some tiny way, I was sharing in Christ's suffering.

Now, I'm not dumb enough to equate putting clothes in an automatic washing machine and missing a party with bearing the wrath for mankind's sin on a cross. It's not quite in the same league. But I have been experiencing the disappointment, depression, struggle with sin, and sorrow that come with any life lived on planet earth. And it is precisely those things which Jesus stepped into when He put on flesh in Bethlehem. Becoming Emmanuel meant willingly experiencing the daily trials, pains, temptations, and struggles that all of us experience as human beings. What else could it mean to be fully man, than to fully taste the daily consequences of living in a broken, sin-filled world? Not only did Christ have to unjustly taste the result of our sin as He hung on the cross, He began tasting it the moment He left heaven and all its joy and glory for this dusty, disappointing earth.

We think of Christmas as a time of joy, and it is, because it's a time that causes us to focus on our redemption. Redemption is defined as deliverance, rescue, repurchasing or even conversion of paper money for bullion. Something cannot be redeemed unless it is first held captive or made to seem worthless or hopeless. Only then can One come and trade captivity for freedom, exchange something worthless for something invaluable, take ashes and create beauty.

There is something about experiencing the tiniest taste of Christ's sufferings that causes us to appreciate the glory of His coming all the more. When this life and its trappings fall short of satisfying our desires and leave us empty and longing, the time is ripe for the Savior to step in and fill us up with His presence.

So, as I'm on Pajama Day #4 1/2, I am reminded that sometimes the Lord has to remove us from all the distractions (even the fun ones with Christmas labels and yummy food) in order to speak to us and prepare us.

When Zechariah was told a son was coming, his lack of faith left him without the ability to communicate with the world around him. But God did a work in his silence, and the first words on his lips when words returned, were praises to the Lord.

When Elizabeth found out that the Lord was about to bless her, use her, and fulfill her desire at last, she went into seclusion for months.

When Mary got the most exciting, yet potentially devastating, news of her life, she fled to a place away from watching eyes for a few months.

When John the Baptist was preparing to be one of the greatest, loneliest, most controversial men to walk the earth, he spent time in the wilderness before commencing the call to repentance.

And, of course, before Jesus stepped full-on into the mission He came to fulfill, He retreated into the wilderness for forty days.

If these people cannot know God fully and be prepared to complete their callings without quiet times in their p.j.s', how can we expect to?

So from me and my pajama-clad crew come wishes for a few p.j. days for you, with maybe just the tiniest sprinkle of earthly disappointment, so that you can experience more fully the...

Joy of the Season.




Merry Christmas!!
 
P.S. If you're ever looking for a taste of suffering, I suggest trying to get an acceptable Christmas photo of four kids. Just a helpful Christmas tip at no extra charge.
 
 
Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of his servant David...
Luke 1:68-69