My fingertips wrinkle in the suds and I’m emptied out. It happens at the kitchen sink, in the slow-slipping light of late afternoon, in the fuss of children. It happens with dinner in the oven — the one I thought for sure would break me. The one that had me daydreaming fried chicken legs in a paper bucket.
Out my spotted window the grass gives up, too, jaundice creeping up its tips in broad day when it should be safely hidden under snow. The Christmas tree is up. It’s cheery. But it doesn’t cheer me tonight. It’s too bright, too distracting. Maybe tomorrow I’ll love it again. But not today.
Today there are people I would fight for trying desperately to piece together a life where loss and redemption can both have a home.
Today I lost a person I was never brave enough to love.
Today I’m a mom too tired for this tough parenting gig.
Today my friend sends tear-stained text messages and I follow suit.
Today my child is sick and no one can help him get better.
I lean one bowl against another, the towel soaked through. I keep washing, my hands going through the motions while my heart exhales, everything is not okay.
It’s one thing to find the silver lining, but some moments were reserved for hard truths, and I know I’m not alone.
It’s Christmas and we were not made for this world. We weren’t made for the lights or the crack bark or the skinny tree. Those things can’t complete us, perfect us, transform us into people with lives that never bend at unnatural angles.
This is why the days feel dark sometimes when the rest of the world says they shouldn’t. We’re homesick. We know a shoddy replacement when we see one.
Here we are, down on uneven dirt, clawing for a glimpse of glory through a broken pane. We look past the cracks and the smudges and see the baby face of freedom. We memorize Him, love Him, pray to want more of Him.
Maybe fudge balls and mistletoe are not high on your priority list and you feel a little lost in the glare. But Christmas is yours, too. Because Emmanuel came. He came to walk in my sorrow and in yours. He came to see it for Himself, to touch it, to redeem it and call it beautiful. He came to be with us and even when it seemed like He left, He didn’t.
Are you lonely today? Missing someone you love? Did you wake up to the throbbing reminder that life is just as messy as it was yesterday?
Emmanuel is coming for us, just as much as the rest of them. He’s coming to our pain. He’s coming in to our captivity. He’s coming as our ransom. He’s all the good news and great joy we’ll ever need.
Lean with me into the weirdness and all the struggle. Celebrate if you want to or wait it out.
Either way, we’re in it together, and that’s a real thing of beauty.
This is the reason for the season.
The rest is just sprinkles.