And just like that….it’s Christmas Eve!
Before we know it the decorations that were put up only weeks or days ago (or in my case, yesterday!) will be wrapped up and packed away for another year. But while we’re still anticipating Christmas there’s something that’s been on my heart all week and I do pray I can find words to adequately express it…..
It’s about disappointment. (I know this is supposed to be about love, but I’ll get there!)
We’ve been exploring the advent themes of hope, peace, joy and now love together this year through the honest lens of being in a place where these things aren’t easy to pick up and put on because the calendar says it’s time. If you’ve been following an Advent blog for the hurting, it most likely means you are, and it’s for you that I’ve written every word. ❤
Having back to back tragedies isn’t the norm for most families, and there are still days where I long to turn the clock back and warn everyone of what’s to come….to seek shelter and cover my children with my own life. Any mother would – but of the many choices we are given in this beautiful life, the clock-turning-back thing isn’t one of them. (Believe me….God and I have had extensive talks on this one….He patiently insists it’s not a good idea!)
So, when grief began to ease it’s clutches around my heart just a bit, there was something that seemed to grow in that place for a while, less distinguishable but just as painful. It took some time before I could put a word to it, but eventually I realized what that feeling was……was disappointment.
It’s a common emotion that everyone can identify with and one that I’ve had fierce battles with in recent years. It basically means feeling let down by an unmet expectation. (And when you’re a person that tends to plan and perhaps over-anticipate , expectations can become huge disappointments when not met.) So it’s been on my mind of late, and it recently occurred to me that disappointment is a huge part of grief. Which leads me to Mary. As in the mother of Jesus. =)
If any mother in history had reason to be disappointed, it had to be Mary. I don’t know of any other woman who had an angel sent from God to proclaim a miraculous pregnancy and that – oh yea – her baby would be the savior of the world. When she agreed to this angelic proposal I’m sure she didn’t see a manger in her child’s future….or those years on the run from Herod….or a nomadic son teaching from hillsides and causing upheaval in the Jewish community – her community.
She didn’t see a brutal crucifixion of her beautiful, kind, angelicaly promised boy.
Disappointment. So hard for her. So hard for us.
Let’s take a collective deep breath here and admit that whatever has left us hurting this season is in part an unmet expectation. We saw a different future. We believed in a different promise. We don’t know why something has happened and we want to go back and change everything. It’s OK to feel those things – it’s only when we face them that we can begin to heal. And now finally comes the love part….
God knows, dear ones, and he cares! None of the heartaches, the grief, the desires to go back in time, the disappointments….none of these are surprises to God. He knows our brokenness and he knows our questions are real, and His love for us weaves through and covers every part of our suffering. Scripture doesn’t speak of any other angelic conversations Mary or Joseph had during the whole 9 months of pregnancy, nor while whey were on the road to Bethlehem, nor while they were trying to turn a stable into a nursery. They were on their own and had to be wondering what the deal was. They had done a very hard and brave thing in agreeing to this whole arrangement and where was God now? The baby was born, presumably with the help of Joseph instead of a doula, and none of it was planned. Talk about unmet expectations!
And then something happens no one could have expected. Shepherds show up at the stable/nursery and tell Mary and Joseph that angels told them all about the birth of Jesus and they were compelled to come and see. That had to have brought such relief! Finally….a sign of confirmation that it wasn’t all a big mistake. God hadn’t forgotten them – He was at work the whole time, even when they were confused and afraid and felt alone.
I can’t explain how, but I know with everything in me….that God loves me and loves you. He’s provided all we need out of his deep, deep love for and commitment to us, and even when I don’t understand – even in my disappointment – I trust Him. I believe He is at work in my life (and in yours) even when we can’t see. Shepherds may not show up at my door tonight to remind me that God hasn’t forgotten his plans for me (though that would be AWESOME!) but I don’t really need them to. He’s given me “signs” all around me in the kindness of friends and the beauty of scripture and most of all in the ever-present, intimate relationship I have with Jesus – the same Jesus who was born in the stable/nursery and was crucified out of that same love for me. Such amazing love!
My prayer for you today, tomorrow and in all the days to come is that you know you are loved, that you are seen and heard and that you know you are never alone. You can count on it. Love does that, ya know. It may not come how we expect it, but it always comes when we need it.
Thank you for taking this little journey with me through these weeks of advent – your companionship has been a blessing, and your stories have and will continue to be held in my prayers and my heart. God has loved me through you this season!
All the Christmas love,