I just want you to know that I am determined not to ramble on in this post about the amount of things I had planned to have crossed off the list before this week arrived and the subsequent epic failure that has occurred in that regard. No sir, not gonna do it.
I have only been asked about 35 times in the last few days if I am ready for Christmas. You know what my answer is from this moment forward? I'm just gonna give it one of these:
Because, y'all, Tami Taylor and I are nothing if we are not
I just got home from spending an hour at an indoor basketball facility because youth sports these days ain't got time for taking a day off. And really, nothing prepares one's heart for the coming of the Messiah like draining a 3 pointer from mid court.
Still, I am honestly glad to have sat there watching my boy run and shoot and pass, sweat dripping from his hair, lungs burning as he leaned over with his hands on his knees to catch his breath. At first I was frustrated to have to spend the half hour driving in the cold rain to get there and then another hour in that plastic chair, knowing all the while that THERE IS STUFF TO DO, people!
But God brought me there. He wanted me to sit my rear end down in that plastic chair. He wanted me to shudder at the squeak of the shoes and for my head to vibrate every time the ball bounced on the floor. He wanted to remind me that even though in the last few weeks, I have been focused on the fact that life can literally drain away and there is nothing I can do about it, there is absolutely something I can do about the life that is happening right in front of my eyes. He wanted to remind me that where there is sadness and pain, and where there is frantic busyness, there is also wonder and hope and a future of light if I will look for it. As I question Him and beg His comfort and run around frantically trying to make good things happen where there are so many bad things, He is graciously, generously showing me the story of my life and telling me to SIT DOWN, SISTER. SIT DOWN and SEE IT.
I do think my friends who have lost their children appreciate my attention to the cause of childhood cancer because it is important. And I won't stop praying for them and volunteering for this cause, because I know God has called me here. But I would guess these same friends would also suggest that I don't let the children and the husband and the life God has plopped right in front of me slip away unnoticed. Because there is no doubt that these guys are my first and most important calling. I would guess my friends would say, "Pay attention. Be present. Be grateful. Look at your boy. SEE him."
In the same way, I think all my relatives that will be with us this week appreciate the effort to make Christmas special because it's important. And I want the table to be beautiful and the traditions to go off without a hitch and the gifts to be perfect. But I would guess that these family members hope that I don't let these moments of us all together at once slip away unnoticed as I run around like a maniac. I would guess my children would say, "Pay attention. Be present. Be grateful. Look at me. SEE me."
And I know God asks this of me, too. I don't think He wants me to look away from pain. I think He wants me to be aware. I don't think He wants me to let go of all the magic that we try to create in our home for Christmas. I think He wants me to make it feel special. I think He wants me to open my heart to the suffering of His people and at the same time to never, ever forget the grace He puts out into the world every single minute of every single day. He wants me to see that He did that by paying attention, being present, by looking at us, by SEEING us. And realizing that we needed Him to come to save us.
So what He did was He came in the most unexpected way. The cry of a tiny baby, born in stable shattered all the pain and all the darkness on that holy night. I think God sent Him that way to show the world that His plan is not what we may think it is. The way we want things to go might not be the way they are going to go. That suffering might last for awhile, but that joy WILL come again. This was not the way the people thought the King of Kings was supposed to arrive. God was saying, "Pay attention. Be present. SEE Me. Because I have not stopped seeing you."
A SONG I've been listening to this week by Mac Powell says it like this:
I see what I made in your mother's womb.
I see the day I fell in love with you.
I see the your tomorrows, nothing left to chance. I see my Father's fingerprints.
I see your story, I see My name. Written on every beautiful page.
You see the struggle, you see the pain. I see the reason I came.
I came for your story. I came for your wounds.
To show you what love sees, when I see you.
I hope you can all take some moments this week, whether you are in the midst of grief and darkness or just caught up in the stress of trying to make everything perfect to see that God has seen our stories all along and that He is not looking away. I'm going to try really hard to see my family without distraction. To pay attention. To be present. To see them as He sees them. I think He is writing a beautiful story and I don't want to miss it.
Merry Christmas, Friends.