So – it’s D-day for us over-eaters and over-drinkers and over-everything-
Listen. You know why we do those things right? Why we hurt ourselves like that, especially during the holidays? It’s because we’re used to staying very, very busy and loud during the year so we never have to deal with our messy humanness.
We like to stay UP UP UP – but the holidays are when we’re forced to quiet down and slow down. And when we slow down, the truth rises up like a spring. And the truth is that we’re a little sad and lonely and angry and anxious and afraid. Yikes. What? Huh? Where did all that ickiness come from? We were doing JUST FINE ALL YEAR, thank you very much!! (Yep, this is exactly why I can be JUST FINE all day but when 8 pm rolls around it’s all me and my face suddenly shoved inside a box of cereal. Same/same. Slow Down, Truth Arises. The answer: Destroy the truth with CARBS!) Either way, we use all the sugar and booze to stuff down our discomfort because our unease and sadness and fear aren’t supposed to show up on Christmas, right? If they do, if these feelings arise- we must be doing something wrong, right? Because everyone else is HAPPY today, right? Because everything’s supposed to be shiny and perfect and happy and bright, right?
Ha! That is hilarious! No. No, NO! None of that is true. God never suggests that holy days will be easy and shiny and bright. Commercials tell us that. The folks who sell the shiny and bright stuff tell us that. If the original Christmas story taught us anything, it’s that holy days can be brutal indeed, complete with rude innkeepers and tired donkeys and nothing to put your baby in but rags. In fact and forever and ever amen – Holydays have been marked not by SHINY but by HARD.
Fear not, said the angel to Mary, We Can Do Hard Things. For Nothing Is Impossible With God.
Listen- when you feel tired and sad and small because you’re perhaps being sucked into old family dynamics today — because the ICK is arising — find a quiet place in your home to remember. Did you know that the two most repeated phrases in the Bible are Fear Not, and Remember? In order to FEAR NOT, we have to remember. So take a moment to remember that you’ve made it this far. Remember that it’s OKAY to be human. It’s okay to have all the feelings today. It’s okay if your people SEE your real, true feelings. It’s okay to be a little human and uncomfortable and icky. As a matter of fact — that’s what Christmas is ABOUT. INCARNATION. It’s about GOD deciding to become fully human. If God decided that being human was okay — certainly you can decide the same. Don’t stuff it down. Let it come and go. It’ll go, if you let it come. Feeling uncomfortable is not a problem — it’s the numbing and the running and the rejecting of the discomfort that starts all the trouble. Let it come. Make like Mary when she responded to that angel – raise your arms in the air and say to all the feelings: “HERE AM I! LET IT BE!” Holy stuff happens after that level of surrender.
When I feel scared and uncomfortable in my skin during the holidays, when I find myself frantically inhaling my fourth brownie like it’s air that will help me survive (which I did last night) I invite myself to sit on my special pillow and close my eyes and take a few deep breaths. I check back in with God. I ask God to remind me how wildly and completely loved I am, in all my beautiful, messy humanness. Is it a little weird? Yeah, maybe. Tish asked me what I was doing there recently and I said “I’m just here remembering how much God loves me.” She looked surprised and said, “Mom! How could you FORGET that?” And I smiled and said, “Well, sister – my prayer for you is that you never, ever forget that- not even for a second. But if you ever do, you can use my pillow, okay?” The next day, after a fight with her brother, I found Tish on my corner pillow, closing her eyes and smiling.
Nobody’s life or family is perfect. Every family is brutiful. And so what we are celebrating today is not how things should be — but how they ARE. Messy and beautiful and human. If messy and human and poor and a little broken and totally unconventional and even scandalous is good enough for GOD’s little family — it’s good enough for yours, too. Let yourself and your people be messy and beautiful and human today. Don’t try to fix them, just love them. Don’t try to fix yourself, just love yourself. Let it all be.
Take extra good care of yourself. Be TENDER to yourself. Carry your hot tea. Arrange your pillow. When the feelings come, let them – because letting them come is the only way they GO. Please, remember that God loves you just as you love your people. God loves YOU. Just as you are. You are like a perfect little baby wrapped in rags to God. Let that be. It’s true.
Merry Christmas, Beloveds.
Here I go. Off to feel all the feelings. HERE AM I, GOD! LET IT BE!
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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