Last Sunday one of our speaking pastors asked a question all of us can relate to.
“Does this Christmas carry some disappointment for you? Expectations for the perfect family gathering, missing a loved one, wishing there was a baby in an empty nursery, hoping for more?” he asked.
You could feel the palpable crowd nods.
Is there a hint of that for you? Wishing for more, expecting something other than what is this time of year?
You’re not alone.
As an idealist, I crave the lights and tinsel and best possible version of what can be but life is teaching me – through the big tragedies and small disruptions – to roll with what actually is, because He is more in the unexpected than the ideal. Ideal is something far off, in the future, in magazines and commercials and Pottery Barn Catalogues.
In the last 24 hours a friend suddenly lost her dad, another friend is hurting over a family relationship, both our boys got the flu and we stayed home instead of celebrating Christmas with my mom and brother’s family.
Disappointment is all-around.
Funny how life keeps going, even as Bryan and I share disappointment. This wasn’t what we planned, we sulked. But is it ever?
You know what our pastor offered as he closed the message? He offered a space to give Him all our pains, disappointments, anger, frustrations, expectations, whatever it is that is keeping us from experiencing the JOY Jesus so eagerly longs to offer. He encouraged us to let.them.go. All of them. Not only a few, and then wear the others like heavy disappointment yolks. ALL of what is blocking us from celebrating His Son, even in the middle of perhaps super crappy circumstances.
His words were snow-fresh air to a stuffy room.
I know what I’m letting go of.
I’m letting go of expectations.
Holding my hands open and saying, “Can you carry this ‘cuz it’s too heavy with everything else I’m holding?”
Friends, let’s not forget, or “get over it,” or stuff, or put on a precious face (can’t.even.fake.it). Let’s choose to claim wonder even when Christmas doesn’t feel like it used to as a child.
Today at the park, an outdoor stage begged the boys to emcee and dance and reject their own mother as an audience participant (so rude). Above their heads I noticed hundreds of flamy Monarch Butterflies dancing in Eucalyptus Tree branches. The air was confettied with wings, so many I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. Joy. Right in the middle of disappointment dances JOY.
On the way back to the car, we noticed a Monarch lying on the ground. Thinking it was one, the boys bent low and investigated to discover it was two butterflies. One, with a torn wing, and the other, trying to carry it into the air but struggling. Ty gently (although moments before he was not-so-gently arguing with his bro) scooped the jeweled angels to held them when suddenly up, up, up they fluttered, dancing in the air. Torn wing and all.
I’m reminded of the various moments in life when beauty and pain, brokenness and a caring presence, dancing and struggling exist in the same frame.
It’s okay to experience an ache for more, a hope for something beyond all this, for where there is longing, there lies eternity.