can i tell you how much i LOVE the holidays!!! it’s a time for all my favorite things: boots. scarves. mittens. hats. coats. christmas lights. the scent of christmas cookie candles. making presents. wrapping presents. warm gingerbread topped with peppermint ice cream. basketball. friends. family. gifts. giving. plays. concerts. the ballet. ice skating. shopping. sparkles. sequins. christmas caroling. jazz. freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. hot tea. fur blankets. a great read. fireplaces. classic movies. staying home. and i intend to indulge in every single one of these things (at least once) during this holiday season!
but as i was standing in my kitchen last night (one of my favorite places to be during the holidays!), a thought came to me…one that will make this holiday different from any other. i thought back to when a friend of mine came to visit me…almost two years ago. i was expecting just a normal conversation, catching up, etc.–what you do with friends when you haven’t seen them in awhile. sure, we did the ‘catch up on life’ conversation over lunch, but it was what they gave me right before that changed me. it was a book. (i’m sure you’re thinking–so what–a book? i can go to the store and buy one of those)
i think my reaction at that point was…”um, thanks for the book. i’ll get around reading it…some day.” and then i looked at the cover. read the title. looked at the author. looked at the author again. took a third look at the author and sat there in shock. then i’m pretty sure i screamed “WHAT! YOU WROTE A BOOK!!! I’M OFFENDED I WASN’T ASKED TO EDIT IT!” i was joking of course…about the editing part. but the shock was real. not that i didn’t think they were capable of writing a book, but the fact they had gone thru with it. not for themselves, but for someone else. and before i could start with the questions, the door closed behind as they left.
so for the next two hours, i planted myself on my couch. i laughed. i cried. but moreso, i was in disbelief. when i finished reading, i found myself weeping. not because i was upset, but because i had realized that a person i thought i knew so well, i didn’t really know at all. i spent a year building a friendship that if tested, would crumble in a second because i was too selfish to look past myself. my wants. my desires. that i totally missed everything this friend was feeling.
and that takes me back to the kitchen last night. for twenty-one years of my life, i celebrated Christmas without understanding the FULL meaning of it. of course i knew the whole story of the three wise men, an angel appearing, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. in fact, i played the role of an angel and Mary in several plays at my church growing up. but this year, it’s more than just doing good and reading a story. that story is part of who i am today. go and read luke 1. the level of faith and trust elisabeth and mary must have had is something i’m striving for every day.
before this year, i wasn’t depending on anyone but myself to lead me in the right direction. even at times when i ‘thought’ i was doing the right thing, i wasn’t. everytime i thought i was moving forward i would end up right where i started. my level of faith and trust in God was minimal. so God decided to do something about it. things that i never imagined could happen this year, did.
i think about how i sat there weeping after reading my friend’s book. how i never really looked past myself in that friendship. and then i think about Jesus. how selfless he was. giving his life for you and me. for years thinking about Jesus besides Christmas and Easter was nonsense to me…unless i really wanted something and felt the notion to pray. and even then, if God didn’t answer my prayers right away, sometimes i felt like he didn’t hear me. but all those years, he heard every single word i said. he was watching me. waiting. waiting for me. waiting for you. when he looks at us, is he weeping because of how much time we spend doing useless activities? because we choose to spend our money on ourselves instead of giving? OR is he weeping because we’ve so radically obeyed his will for our lives?
during this holiday season, i encourage you to seek your ‘reason for the season.’