December 15, 2009

Do You Hear What I Hear?

There’s like ten days until Christmas (I’m not counting) and I feel a big freak out coming on. No, I didn’t lie when I previously said I have a peace about this Christmas season that I haven’t experienced in years. But c’mon, I’m human. And no amount of chocolate-covered Christmas cheer, festive wrapping paper or sparkly lights can keep life from encroaching/intruding/crashing/interloping onto the carefully crafted scene.

So much of Christmas is about our feelings. Our nostalgia for Christmas past. Our expectations of Christmas future. And our hopes for Christmas right now. Being a sentimental fool, I love the warm fuzzies of Christmas. But emotions are a fair weathered companion and often lie or mislead.

Years ago I learned Christianity isn’t an emotional experience. We can’t rely on our feelings to tell us whether we are or aren’t a Christian. I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but for me it was a revolutionary concept. For years I’d chased elusive feelings believing when I caught them I’d be a Christian. But when the warmth of Christmas (or some other "high") faded, my emotions left with them and I'd be left disappointed and distanced from Jesus once again.

Now, looking at Christmas from the vantage point of a Christian (and also a pragmatic skeptic), I think we waste a lot of time trying to creating something that won’t last and missing the One thing that will.

Christmas isn’t magic. But, Jesus is miraculous. And we have our entire year, not just the Christmas season, to adore/worship/spread goodwill/tell it on the mountain. 

With evidence of God’s presence all around, I wonder (as I’m prone to do) why it’s so hard for people to accept His gift of grace?

Why did it take me thirty-some years to finally “get it?”

Why, when churches are filled to the brim on Christmas Eve, don’t more people take Jesus home to grow after visiting Him in the manger?

Why, when we use all the right words and try our hardest, don’t our loved ones believe?

Why, when Jesus is the answer to ALL of life’s problems, don’t more folks reach for the cure?

Why do some people have ears that can hear and others don’t?

I sure don’t have the answers, but I know many of you struggle with the same questions. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

My Christmas expectations may crash and burn. I might lose my cool. I might not get everything done. I might buy the wrong presents. And I’m okay with that. Because I realize that Christmas isn’t a moment to be captured that fades until next year, it’s the start of a story that lasts forever. And I, for one, want to be a part of that story.

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’” (Luke 2: 10-11)


Cheryl Barker said...

I was thinking just today about where we get our Christmas joy. If we look for it anywhere or in anyone other than Jesus, eventually we will be disappointed. Thank goodness Jesus will never disappoint, and like you said, we can worship and adore Him year round. Joy to the world!

Merry Christmas, Kelli!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I know what you mean. We can take some moments and really feel at peace during this season, but we often feel overwhelmed as well.

I'm also with you on keeping the miracle of Christmas close to us all year long. What an awesome gift that is!! But I have no answers to those questions, other than that we are a fallen people and so we keep falling.

Sue J. said...

We're either traveling similar paths or I triggered something the other day....

I have found it odd, different and unsettling to keep going through my days this month without some kind of new revelation or thrill over the anticipation or other such event, as usually happens in this season. I kept asking God if I was missing something. I know I'm not supposed to "feel" the season, and yet something was "lacking" or was it?

What I can say with certainty is that I have felt more connected with God than ever--through His Word, writing about it, speaking about it, trying to live it out with all the challenges connected with that.... So, maybe, this year, it's not so bad that there is another day walking in that faith. That Christmas doesn't have to be a catalyst any more. That rebirth is daily....

It's different, though. Thanks for keeping 'joy' in perspective!

CLPRM said...

I could say alot about how i have felt during the most recent Christmas seasons, I have tried my best to pacify those who would get joy from some gift or lighted tree and have surrendered my focus to the real reason for the season, JESUS! JESUS! JESUS!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

A straight run from our hearts to his; no detours to distract us, no trying to whip ourselves into an emotional frenzy, no programmed "remembrances" to take the place of relational communion.

Just a straight run to his heart...


Christmas 365.

Running with you, sister.


Sassy Granny ... said...

Wow ... this is such a common thread that's running through many a blogger's site. It's as if the Lord Himself wants it highlighted.

I'm with Elaine ... running with you, sister!


Irritable Mother said...

Oh, I am so glad our faith is not based upon our feelings - that Jesus is not greater when I'm "feeling" excited and not less when I'm feeling blah.
He is the same. Yesterday. Today. And forever.
I, too, struggle with not feeling sentimental or sparkle-y or "whatever" all the time during the Christmas season. And I am tempted to consider my feelings to be a reflection of Jesus. But they are NOT.
Jesus is good, God is God, whether I am stressed out by preparations or kids, or anything else.
And I need to hold on to that Truth - all year long!
Thanks for leading me through these thoughts this morning.

Terri Tiffany said...

Beautiful thoughts! Thank you.
Wish I was closer to you and we could meet. We are up near the border of PA and NY. Have a blessed day!

Runner Mom said...

I'm running with Kathleen and Elaine as well!! You knew I would! I need to run straight to my Savior's heart and focus on Him[not the bright sparkly lights and other distractions.)

I went to the mall this morning--which I rarely do! Mercy...the sale prices and the clothes that they want you to think that you need are overwhelming! Luckily, Austin texted me and said that they were getting an early dismissal due to inclement weather, so I made a beeline for the door. Our inclement weather still hasn't hit! (But our school district was ready!!)

Love you!