I hate when my December posts are downers. :(
But what a season.
I've had a heavy heart all this month. I remember feeling it last Christmas too... being in the midst of our state training for foster care and having some of the sad realities of our weary world in our face for these weeks surrounding the holidays.
And it's more of the same this year, having actually been entrenched in the system and having walked alongside the families and children who live these lives so very different than ours. Seeing their realities. It's disheartening, it's discouraging, it's devastating, and I have a hard time aligning my thoughts when trying to balance the bleakness of some situations with the supposed Joy of this season.
I have a hard time going about our "merriness"... baking goodies and creating gifts and basking in the childhood traditions we have surrounding this holiday in our home.
Knowing for so many there is none of that. Nothing even close to that.
It helps, I think, that we've scaled Christmas down drastically from what is often the "norm" in our culture. We give simple, handmade gifts, we bake and bring a lot of treats and good wishes to those in our community around us, we don't run around shopping and getting caught up in the frenzy of a commercialized holiday, the kids are more excited about giving to their teachers and their cousins than being concerned with their "wish lists".
Sawyer randomly rattled off a little sh-peal to me yesterday about "what Christmas is really about" and it made me smile... "it's not about just santa and presents you know. It's more about love and giving and making people feel special and sharing the things we have and it's about bringing joy to others like how joyful the angels were on the first Christmas, getting the shepherds all excited.
Oh yeah, and it's about Jesus. It's always about Jesus."
I think we're doing it right.
I've been feeling real weary about our world the past few weeks.
And then Friday.
The ugliest Friday this country has seen in a long, long time.
Talk about weary.
The bottom line is, there are beautiful things and there are right things to say about our hope as Christians... but some days it’s honestly a fight to feel the peace we profess.
It's so easy to grow weary as we wait for the day when it will be made right.
It can be such a struggle to trust in His ultimate goodness... and realize daily the battle of learning how to lean hard into the truth of that -instead of what’s all around us.
We need the joy. We need the rejoicing.
Not despite their (our) circumstances, but because of them.
It's all part of the Christmas story...
We're still all part of the Christmas story.
Love will come again, and just like we sing in the classic Christmas hymns, and our weary world will rejoice... we should rejoice.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn...
...Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
O come Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
So yes, I have really struggled this season.
Saying Goodbye to Lexi and Cale, sending them off -seemingly even further from their families- just before Christmas... trying not to worry about Miya every single day... praying for Remy's mom and her battles... through our work seeing mere glimpses of the ugliness of our city. Of our country. Of this broken world.
I just want to make it all okay.
Knowing the joy that Christmas should be, I just want everyone to know that joy- real joy. Even in the desperate times... I just want to somehow be able to give some sort of hug that imparts to them some hope and some peace. And some joy.
For the ones who've been left standing on the outside looking in, the ones feeling lost, feeling forgotten. The ones with dreams that never will come true, the ones who's life story gets re-written overnight... or in the bright morning hours one Friday in December.
The ones who, while everybody sings their happy Christmas songs, just want to cry.
The ones who, while there are Christmas lights and decorations everywhere you look, feel nothing but dark and gray and lifeless inside.
Joy to the world; but so many feel there's no joy left for them.
The irony is, I believe that's why we celebrate the Christmas story.
We celebrate how Love came down so that every lost and lonely broken heart can be found and healed. He came down into this weary world to show us how very much He loves us... to give us that hope and that peace. And that joy. And it will come again. He will come again.
And our weary world will rejoice.