This year, the Advent season felt totally wrong.
To start off, our family was sick for the first two weeks. Instead of being Mary in the Kid’s Club Christmas program, my daughter laid listlessly on the couch, her little body burning up with fever.
Mostly due to the sickness, Will and I didn’t join an Advent small group study. Advent small group is one of my very favorite times of the year–a time when I meet people and connect with them in ways beyond hello-and-how-are-you. Something about the Christmas season makes everyone a little warmer and friendlier and more open spiritually. I was deeply disappointed to miss out on this special time.
Because our family lost so many days of school when I was running to Wichita weekly for appointments (for two of the children), we couldn’t take much of a Christmas break. We worked on school right up to the Saturday before Christmas. It was intense, to say the least.
In addition to that, for months I’ve had no time to check in with close friends, to sit down and look at my life through their wisdom. When I finally emerged from my shell a few weeks ago, the words bumbled out in a shocking mess, revealing the loneliness and uncertainty in my heart.
Even with the approach of Christmas, I didn’t feel very spiritual. I didn’t read my Bible enough; really, I didn’t read much of anything except for brief forages into the Psalms. I sat in church week after week and cried silently, feeling empty and hungry and alone.
Several days ago, in the early-morning dark, I cuddled my three-year old who couldn’t sleep. I thought about Jesus coming into the world, and suddenly the thought sneaked in and laid heavy and comforting on my restless mind: He came to meet you in the mess.
If everything were right about this world, if it didn’t make me groan as I awake to face another day, I wouldn’t feel that intense longing for someone or something to set things right. The God-child birthed inside a cave emerged as a squalling infant into a messy world. And Jesus has specialized in meeting people in their messes ever since.
If I experience the grace and presence of Jesus in a deeper way, my Advent season turned upside down may be one of the best things that’s happened to me yet.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Merry Christmas from the Schmucker family!
How do you most feel the need for Jesus right now?