The laundry piles up like the snow in dingy drifts, and there is no will in me to shovel out.
It’s only a few days till Christmas, and needles from our tree scatter all over the floor like my hyperactive mental list. Wrap Christmas Eve jammies! Bake cookies! Sweep! Call Keren about scheduling a play date in January! It goes on and on, endless as the requests for sippy cups of warm milk and orange juice, relentless as my need for a full time laundry helper. (Applications, anyone?)
My mind skitters back to the phone call yesterday. My doctor’s voice, telling me that the test result came back as suspected. Peri-menopausal is a diagnosis I hadn’t expected. Still in my early thirties, I saw more little Canfields in our future. Not hot flashes and calcium supplements and hormone headaches…the tears come. Again. I’m a mess. Again.
I’m drawn, again, to a God who gave everything to inhabit the mess.
My mess. My not-togetherness. Yours. All those darkened pieces we try to tuck away from the light – His light sees them all, and loves us anyway. Where in all this love does unwanted news fit? Bundle it all together, and it’s like a bouquet of cactus stems and orchids. How do you reconcile the good and the ugly in one messy life?
It hits me like a kiss out of nowhere that if God willingly gave His only Son for us, then everything from His hand must be blessing. If menopause happens a decade or two early, okay. Somehow, some way, it must be good. I would rather have the will of God than anything else in my life. Hasn’t He proven that He won’t hold back anything good? And don’t His best gifts sometimes come wrapped oddly?
Like an unexpected pregnancy, or an unplanned trip nine months heavy with child. Like no room in the inn, like a woman groaning in labor and missing her mother. Take all the little, fractured pieces, and the sharp edges feel like a knife, slicing hard. Like the bearing down birth pangs, one crashing right after the other, each one harder than the last. It’s easy to cry, where is God in all this?
And then, maybe like Mary, the seeing comes, not in making sense of it all, but in seeing God in it all.
Immanuel, joining us, adding His cry to our own. He’s right here. My heart slows its wild racing, and I inhale. Maybe living with eyes open to the blessing doesn’t mean that I have to see the blessing. Maybe all it means is willingness to see God in the hot, dusty miles. God providing shelter even while all those innkeepers said no. God bearing down hard in the labor pains and birthing joy in the mess. This is the gift of Christmas: God always with us, settling the question of His love toward you and me forever with His presence.
Maybe those little broken bits of our stories are a mosaic making loveliness out of nothing.
I feel love wrap me like swaddling clothes, jumbling the chipped pieces in me with the raw ones, the sparkly with the shiny ones in a colorful mess. I am tied up and held together and hushed like a newborn, cradled in grace. Mary knew that there was joy in simply yielding to the will of God. Simply saying yes. Yes.
Maybe you feel the pain bearing down, overwhelming you. Maybe there’s nothing in your life that seems to make any sense, and you wonder if God even sees.
In the hush of darkness, come to your stable, your messy, rejected places, and find God come to you.
His love looks like ancient promises come true, like a weary teenager resting after birth, like cows and sheep and a Savior all huddled together in a barn. Like cactus stems and orchids, like a messy life tied together with grace. It’s there in the diagnosis, in the raw places, in the disappointments and tears and the people who can’t understand that Jesus comes exactly where we don’t expect to see Him.
He’s there, tiny enough to hold in a messy heart and large enough to span the cosmos and all your deepest fears. He’s the still, small voice that comes after the storm that’s wrecked you. And He’s the conquering King who will execute righteousness among the nations.
This Christmas, look for your King in the back streets, the stinky places, the rejected spots of your life.
He is there.
Joy to the world…Let earth receive her King.
Grace, peace, and joy in the mess,