Today I am happy to welcome Melanie Brown to Once Upon A Writer. When I first read Melanie’s post I laughed, cried, and felt truly blessed. The kind of blessed you feel when you’ve just been set free from a heavy weight on your shoulders, or taken a long drink of ice cold water, or a deep breath of fresh air. On this Christmas Eve, I hope these words will be just what you need to refresh your spirit and prepare your heart for the gift of our Savior.
~ Post written by Melanie Brown ~
My Monday started off as your typical December twenty-secondish kind of day. You know that kind of day where you try to keep a smile on your face and remain calm, cool, and collected because you know, after all, it is Christmas time, and we are suppose to be joyful; yet, on the inside, you can feel the pressures mounting and the list of things to do growing – all of those things you want to accomplish and experience so that you can have an ideal Christmas.
My Monday was just that kind of day, and by 10:00 that night I let out a big SIGH when I gathered all the kids together on the couch in order to read our second daily Advent devotional of the day before bed (because we are several days behind and it certainly isn’t ideal not to catch up on that!). Well, my mind was once again pondering over all the things I want to have just perfect before we roll out of here for Michigan at the end of the week. I was playing the “If only” game again. “If only . . . then my Christmas would be ideal.”
If only . . .
my house was spotless.
all the laundry was washed and put away.
the bags were packed.
I could get more sleep.
Madeline’s arm wasn’t in a splint.
the kids would stop coughing, sputtering, and spitting.
they would stop arguing and be nice to one another for a change.
property taxes weren’t due at the end of the month.
the van didn’t need fixing.
we had gotten more school stuff done before Christmas break.
Christmas gifts didn’t cost so much.
I felt like every gift was just perfect and what they wanted.
the gifts didn’t look like they had been wrapped by an 8 and 10 year old (even though
they were wrapped by two very eager kids to get some presents under the tree)
we didn’t have an emergency room visit and six doctor appointments in the last month.
the pie crust I made at 11:00 at night didn’t have a teaspoon of salt in it instead of 1/4 a
teaspoon like the recipe called for.
it were snowing and not raining.
and on and on and on.
Even as I type I realize that all of these things really are rather trivial. The housework isn’t going anywhere. We still have clothes to wear. Bones will heal and coughs will fade. There will always be bills to pay. Wrapping paper will be torn to shreds in a matter of seconds and then crumpled into garbage bags. We’ll eventually make it to Michigan, and the kids might one day decide to love each other (although I’m not holding my breath!).
For many of you though, the things this Christmas that are far from ideal are not trivial at all. Some of you are facing major surgery in the very near future. Others of you are laboring to recover from surgeries past. For some, your hearts are breaking at the knowledge that your loved one will not be with you much longer and this will be your last Christmas together. Then there are those whose hearts grieve with an ache that never truly goes away over loved ones who have already gone before. Some are looking to the New Year and wondering how they will possibly make ends meet. These not-so-trivial things go on and on too, and they certainly do not make for that ideal, perfect Christmas we are always striving for.
As I sat there on the couch Monday night waiting for the kids to settle down so I could begin reading, it hit me like a ton of bricks. The very first Christmas was far from ideal. Now it’s not like I never knew this before, but I saw it in a fresh new light. Jesus knows what it’s like to live a life that’s far from ideal. There was nothing ideal about Joseph marrying a young girl already great with child. There was nothing ideal about having to travel to Bethlehem – let alone to pay taxes. It certainly wasn’t ideal for Mary to ride a donkey or give birth in a stable. The very first breath our Savior took was far from ideal as it was probably laden with the stench of animal dung. Yet, he left the ideal throne of heaven and came to this not-so-ideal world in order to save you and me who reek with the stench of sin.
Why then are we striving so hard to have an ideal Christmas when nothing about Jesus’s birth, life, or death was ideal? He came so that He might dwell among us (John 1:14) and be our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-15) because He knew that only He could be the true Ideal we’re searching for. As Christmas day approaches then, let all these things in your life that are far from ideal be a reminder that Jesus knows and cares. Turn to Him. Let Him be your living water this Christmas. Drink deeply of Him, and if we cease striving for the ideal, we may just find that this will be our most ideal Christmas yet.
Melanie Brown is a wife, homemaker, and homeschooling mom of three. She lives with her family in Whitsett, North Carolina.