I remember sitting on our couch a year ago, in our new (but now old) apartment, purposely making myself sit down and stare at our Christmas tree. It wasn't difficult to make myself sit down - I was doing that a lot, considering I was 5-ish months pregnant at the time. But it was difficult for me to just stare in awe and wonder at the lights, the ornaments, the memories displayed before me. I loved to stare at my parents' tree when I was younger...for some reason, the simplicity and the beauty touched a chord in me. Yes, it reminded me of Christmases past, and family/friends, but it also reminded me of the mystey and beauty and glory of Jesus' birth. As I stared at our tree last year, I was feeling the same things, but it was so different, knowing that in a short time, we would experience the same thing (well, almost the same thing - thanks, emergency C-section...) that Mary and Joseph experienced. We were about to bring a son into the world. I remember all of these crazy thoughts swirling around in my head and my heart, trying to get into the normal Christmas traditions, etc. That was extra hard last year, considering we had just found out about Paul's brain tumor a few weeks earlier. Everything I knew was changing, and although I claim to love change (and I do, for the most part), I was craving some monotony...I wanted some semblance of normal life. Oh, how times change...
I'm now sitting here, a year later, mulling over the last year and everything we've been through, and I'm in the opposite camp...I want some change so badly. Thankfully, the tumor is benign, and as crazy as the last two months of my pregnancy were, including the C-section, Isaac is the most amazing thing that's ever happened to us. Paul and Isaac are truly my saving grace so much these days. We've made it through two job changes for Paul, my maternity leave/going back to working a job I don't particulary enjoy, and are attempting to handle the constancy of an almost 9 month old...wow. But I'm tired. We're in a hard season...we are surrounded by the struggle - the desperate ebb and flow of life - the pull between flesh and spirit, this life and the next. I can honestly say I've never felt the divide so deeply before. And so often lately, it's put me in a place of despair. So while last year I had a hard time getting into Christmas for the reasons listed above, this year, it seems even harder. Life is different, no doubt, and will continue to be change, as is the life of new parents and babies. But tonight, as I try to stare at our new, smaller, tabletop-so-Isaac-doesn't-kill-himself Christmas tree, my eyes well up with tears for the place we're in. I'm trying to be content in all things (ugh, Philippians 4), but I suck at it.
I was a grown-up last year. I was a mature, married adult, and had been through some stuff. I've always considered my experiences a gift from God, if not at the time, then eventually. I knew what it meant to focus on the real reason for the Christmas season. And although I would have said that we had been through some rough times, I now know what rough times really are. I know things could have been and could now be worse...I understand that perspective. But my heart is heavy, and I struggle with the point in life as we know it.
And yet, there's a glimmer of hope.
Life definitely wasn't all joy, awe and wonder for Mary and Joseph. I can't even imagine the thoughts running through their heads and hearts as strange men came bearing gifts, and dirty, smelly shepherds came praising their new baby boy, not to mention seeing angels in dreams and having a star follow them as they traveled. I guess that's why Mary pondered...there weren't even words to describe her situation. So Lord, help me to ponder during this time...help me to see Your purpose in this craziness. Help me to see this dirty, smelly, strange season as a gift from You.