he other day I was chatting with a friend who was telling me about one of her closest friend’s recent heartache. ..not in a gossipy way, but in a “I’m really concerned about my friend” kind of a way. The friend is in a really messy place…not an uncommon situation, but messy nonetheless. With a heavy, hurting heart, I simply commented, “That’s messy. And it’s also really scary.”
Life is messy, isn’t it? And often, our messes scare us; our situations may feel beyond our control or simply out of control. Often when the end is in not in sight, we worry about the effect the mess is going to have on our kids or loved ones, or even our very lives. We get scared. For the past few years our family has been walking through the messiness of grief, and at times the grief has been downright ugly. We’re coming through it now, and my goodness it feels good to be able to see clearly and breathe deeply again. For awhile anyway….there’s obviously another mess around a bend up ahead that we can’t see yet. It’ll come though. It’s guaranteed.
The messes of life come in an endless variety of sizes and force. Some we create ourselves and others happen upon us for reasons completely outside of our control. Grief is messy. Illness is messy. Conflict is messy. Relationships are messy. Parenting is messy. Marriage is messy. Financial strain is messy. And for many of us, the Christmas season, in addition to all its inherent joy and wonder, is also the time when our messes feel the messiest. Grief is more painful; financial strain more stressful; illness more bitter; loneliness deeper; strained relationships more apparent.
When Your Holly Jolly Most Wonderful Time of the Year Becomes Your Crazy, Irrational, Most Stressed-Out Time of the Year....
Confession: I feel like I'm losing my mind.
I honestly thought I wasn't going to go crazy this Christmas. Earlier in the fall I read this great blog about being done gift shopping by December 1...I loved it and decided to do that. And was mostly successful. But then, and then, and then...you know how it goes. Then earlier this week I realized I should maybe do some meal planning for these fabulous celebrations and the wonderful people we get to see. Yesterday in the grocery stores my boys ran in circles because, let's be honest, Mama has dragged them to a few too many stores in the last couples weeks and they are going bonkers, and the lines are getting longer, and Mama's head is getting closer and closer to imploding.
This morning I laid in bed in the quiet darkness and asked Jesus to help me keep Him my center today. To help me not go crazy like yesterday. But then I got out of bed.
This morning I was at a women’s Christmas event at my church where us young moms seated around our table struck up a conversation about Santa: do we do the Santa thing, when and how do we break the truth to our kids, etc. A handful of us at the table readily agreed that telling our kids the truth about Santa was a delightfully liberating decision…both for the parents and the kids.
Some of you might be wondering if this is the Christmas to break the news to your kiddos. If that’s you, I’d like to share some encouragement. If that’s not you, then friend, that’s okay. There is no judgment here; but there may be some helpful thoughts here for you to ponder for Christmases to come. However, for those of you that feel like the Santa thing has become more burdensome than enjoyable, perhaps it’s time to take to take Jesus at his word when He said “The truth shall set you free.” Yes and Amen. Obviously he was talking about much bigger things when he said that, but its application can reach even to this. Even in such little and trite things like magical sleighs and reindeer that fly and a jolly old Santa that keeps track of our daily behaviors and rewards or punishes us accordingly…yes, even in this, the truth does set you free.