This Christmas, I could think of only one thing I wanted to share with the world--a link to my Amazon wishlist (kidding). I have had a moment of inspiration, and I am taking full advantage. I will try to be brief, but please forgive me if (when) I am not.
This holiday, I want to give some unsolicited advice (the best kind, right?). This Christmas, I want to exhort you, or challenge you, or encourage you--whatever word to which you best respond, whatever word will spur you to action, that's what I want to do.
Friends, be broken this Christmas. At all the various functions you attend, with your friends and family. Be broken. Be honest. Be imperfect. Be exhausted.
Let those who know you know the truth. Let them know the year has been hard. Let them know that you are hurting. Let them know you are tired. Let them know you need prayer or help. Let them know the real you.
Christians such as myself often want to keep some semblance of sacred meaning to this melee called "the holidays", but we are so easily swept into the wave of pageants, presents, and social pressures. Be here; be there. Be on time; be well-dressed. Be peppy; be funny; be careful; be pleasant.
I say be broken. Take your time. Be late but be present. Pause. Rest. Listen. Talk. Share. Give. Give not only the material but the immaterial, not the wealth of your wallet but the treasure of your soul. Give a listening ear, a kind word, a caring hug, a soft hand, a warm heart, a gentle kiss.
So many of us ache during the holidays. The year was harder than we expected; our lives are not where we thought they would be. We miss this person who died this year, or we miss that person that cannot be present. We are hurting for ourselves, or we are hurting for others, and at times we feel alone in crowded churches and long lines, at large dinners or big parties.
This year, connect. Be bold; and be broken. When someone asks "how are you?" tell them the truth, and then ask them to do the same, and be ready for their pain, and love them for it. Thank them for it. Cherish these times. Give them a hug that lasts a little longer, where you squeeze them extra hard, as if to say, "I hurt for you because you hurt, and I love you, and I thank you for being here, for being you."
I gotta be honest. I learned this today of all days at an event that wasn't even Christmas related. This holiday season, I have been in the wave--not so much the buying wave but the planning wave, the events wave, the church wave, and the self-reflection-because-its-the-end-of-the-year wave. None of these waves are bad (in fact, all of them can be very good), but they are the waves that give you a ride, not a lasting, deeply touching experience. No. The honest moments of fragility and self-sacrificial love are the ones that endure. Tonight I sat and released in conversation. I told family how hard this move has been. I told them how it's felt to have no work come Christmastime; and I told them that for the first time, I had empathy, real empathy, for those in a financial bind amidst the pressures of the holidays. For the first time in life, I know how it feels to walk past the perfect gift for that special someone and be unable to buy it. That feeling--that feeling is deep. Powerfully deep. To want to give and be unable makes one feel shameful, wounded, and low. That's the truth of it, and I had never experienced that before this year. Never. What a blessing to be taught such a valuable lesson in love, in compassion, in being broken (not just "broke").
This Christmas, I hurt for people. People I don't know but I have seen or about whom I have heard--people who I know are hurting. And you know what, my friends, this hurt I carry for them feels so incredibly appropriate to the Christmas season. To feel such a thing, to hurt for another person's hurt, what a gift of human emotion; I am blessed for feeling it, and I have acted on it.
But I cannot stop by calling you to be honest with others, though I know that will be the end-all for some of you. I must also encourage you to be honest with God. If never at any other time of year then at this tim, be broken before God and be heartbroken with God. Begin to love him or renew your love for him. You want to celebrate Christ's birth? Seek Christ. Talk to him. Cry with him. Give him praise. Give him worship. And give him your heart--voice your concerns, your joys, and your grief. He already knows your soul, but do you? Give him your attention, let him use it to talk to you; give him your adoration, let him fill you with his love. Read his gift of Scripture, and say to him aloud that he's the greatest gift ever received by any person on this earth. And do this not only at church but alone. In your room. In your bed. In the shower. In the car. Thank him for the blessings you have already received and the blessings to come because you know he is good. Imagine if you had a birthday, and your own family didn't talk to you, didn't tell you that they loved you, didn't give you their time. Don't do that to Jesus, not if you call him Savior. Oh how God wants his children to spend time with Him at Christmas!
All that said (and I know it could hardly be described as "brief"); be broken this year. Let yourself be open and honest, and accept that same trusting sincerity from others in return. That's a gift that requires neither bills nor receipts, neither wrappings nor bows, neither malls nor websites, but it is a gift that we all deeply need, and we all freely can give.
Thank you so very much for reading, and thank you also for your constant support. Love and affection to you all. Be blessed. Bless others. And have a truly wonderful and truly safe holiday, full of fellowship and merrymaking, joy and wonder! Merry Christmas!