So I have mentioned it before, but about 4 years ago, after a fun trip to the beach with my mom and brother, we dropped my mom off at her car and before she got out she said 'your Dad is leaving me'.... It was the shock of my life.
I knew things weren't great. My Dad had been battling depression since loosing a rather important political campaign, among other things. But I honestly never thought they would end their 32 year marriage.
While over the years I have wrestled with what this means to me and the implications of their divorce, not to mention my feelings over them both dating again, nothing compares to the stress and chaos of Christmas.
While I try not to dwell too much, and the dwelling gets less and less every year, on the now misplaced traditions, family memories my own children will never know, and the family members we rarely see now, and I can't even discuss the 200 year family home which now has a new family making memories in its halls. Christmas has still been bittersweet in these recent years.
But after reading an article a friend posted on Facebook from Relevant Magazine, I felt the Lords conviction like an arrow to my heart.
"...prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. He is our way in the wilderness. This is what Advent is all about. We can get manicures and enjoy exhilarating trail runs, but if we aren’t filled by His life-giving Holy Spirit, when the holiday storm hits, we’ll get battered."
Hadn't I just read this morning
"Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets."
2 Cor 7:10
I realize that I've been doing this thing all wrong. I have not been relying on my Helper, the Holy Spirit to guide me, to lead me. I have been going on my own steam come Christmas time each year, trying to make sure everyone enjoys themselves, everyone sees us enough, trying to make sure nothing is awkward and everything is ok. We are ok.
But what I really need is to rest. To rest in Him. Because I can't do this thing, this life thing, without Him. Isn't it ironic that I could possibly forget to do this at Christmas? The time when we celebrate his coming into the world?
This Christmas I pray will be different for me. I pray that I will set aside my peacekeeping, people-pleasing role and focus instead on my Heavenly Father. Praying that He will work through me to be a light of joy and peace to my family.
Whatever your 'distress' may be this Holiday Season, I hope you are able to find the same peace. That you will not let it consume you but draw you; draw you to that lowly manger bed.