As soon as I heard the words fall from my lips, my heart just broke.
“I just can’t wait until Christmas is over.”
No, no… NO. I didn’t just say that, did I?
Yes, I had. OUCH.
It had hurt my heart in the past to hear others say it, never understanding how anyone could dread or dislike the holidays. How could anyone possibly wish to look over or rush past the manger? It was so foreign to me. I have always loved and looked forward to the magic, mystery, and beauty of all that there is about Christmas! But this year – just a few short weeks ago – some circumstances in a personal relationship had boiled over and deeply scarred my once open and expectant heart. My dreams and expectations for the relationship shattered before me, and facing the reality that I had to let go of my dreams and my plan was more than my heart could take. I shut down. I was just … done.
“I just can’t wait until Christmas is over.”
Hearing those words escape from my lips was terribly convicting, and at that moment I knew that I would no longer allow myself to dwell there. Because that’s just not me.
So I made some choices.
I have 24 large rubber bins of Christmas décor. 24, y’all. And I’m a single person! I love, love, love to deck my home’s walls and halls with glitter, garland, trees, and lights. Because I fly solo, it takes a few days to put everything up and then again to take everything down. It’s a major effort (especially with a physical disability), although truly a labor of love…well, for every other year it had been. Also with a passion for hospitality (and just a general innate need to feed people), I enjoy entertaining around the holidays and am known for it. This year, the mere thought of doing those things felt like punishment – not joy. My desire was just gone. And that’s just not me. Something was terribly wrong.
After prayerful consideration, I made some decisions. Well, one really. I decided to seek.
This Christmas season, those 24 bins sit in my garage, unopened. Instead, I am spending the hours I would have spent embellishing my home soaking in beautiful, daily Advent readings that are changing my heart (from Ann Voskamp’s, The Greatest Gift). The extent of my holiday décor is simple this year. One tiny “Advent Tree” with an Advent ornament hung each day (pictured above) sits in my living room, and no large parties will be held in my home this year.
Guess what? It’s beautiful. And it’s enough.
Fixing my eyes on Advent (translated, means “the coming”) instead of the hustle and bustle has allowed my heart to be reborn. And to stay awake through the season, not wanting to miss a moment – anxiously counting down the time to the day that God himself, made flesh, came into the world.
I feel more anticipation and expectation about Christ’s birthday than I have in years. Years.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me here. There is nothing inherently “bad” about decorating and celebrating with gusto the birth of King Jesus, as long as the focus remains on the reason for the season. It deserves to be celebrated with passionate praise and worship, and with glitter and beauty and friends and family and food and ceremony. I’m pretty confident that next year my 24 bins will be empty before Thanksgiving, that I will be picking little red and green glitter bits off of my furniture, carpet, and dogs until March, and that many friends and family members will grace the halls of my home for celebration during the Advent season. But for this year, my heart needed to…just…pause.
I almost allowed the painful circumstances in my life to steal Christmas from my heart. Oh, what I would have missed. It’s not too late for you to make that choice, too, if your heart is heavy during this Advent season. Maybe you can’t see the manger through your tears. Maybe your family is divided, or even broken. Maybe your prodigal child hasn’t come home yet. Maybe you’re fighting a disease or illness. Maybe you’re just tired. I don’t know what you may be going through, but I do know this. When we allow the Spirit to get inside of us…when we stop to pause in His presence … when we lay our plans at the altar, our expectations change. Because we are reminded of the very promise of this Advent season – that there is a Plan.
There is a plan for you in this season. It’s coming. A plan for grace. A plan for hope. A plan for miracles. All we have to do is make room for it – to anticipate it – to expect it.
With her permission, I share with you a beautiful spoken word video below, written and spoken by my oh-so-anointed dear friend, Cynthia Hampton, a wonderful author and artist.
Together, let’s make room for the manger. Let’s make room for our King.
(Content in the video is copyrighted by Cynthia Lisabeth Hampton).