I stumbled down the stairs to my kitchen this morning just before 6:00 am. My eyes were clouded and puffy from restless sleep. My stomach rolled and my barely awake mind raced between the anxious dreams of last night and the anxious reality of the days to come. Only four days to come. Only four days until Christmas. Only four days to prepare.
I have been at least mentally preparing for a family Christmas in this house for nine months. Preparing for perfection. Preparing for a Pinterest worthy picture of a home that is cozy and welcoming and celebratory. I have told myself that in this new home, suddenly, I will be completely at ease with hosting our big family. In an instant "hospitality" will obviously become one of my spiritual gifts. I will be calm and confident about where everything goes - which things to light, which things to hang, which things to display.
I've been madly, frantically preparing a room. (or two or three)
Hey, Me. You're doing it wrong.
We received the devotional book, Why This Jubilee? by James C. Howell at the beginning of the Advent season and I was determined to read it every morning. Unfortunately, I didn't read it every morning. I read it a few times.
Mr. Howell's reflections on the hymn Joy to the World got to me. The hymn does not say "Let every home, prepare Him a room." (that looks like Joanna Gaines came over for the day)
It says, "Let every heart, prepare Him room."
I think it's fine and even right to prepare our homes for visitors. The twinkle of the tree and the shine of the decorations remind our families of the light of the world, the hope we have in the Savior born. Feeding our families, making them comfortable and surrounding them with a clean, lovely home? There is not a thing wrong with that in my mind.
But if our hearts aren't as opened and welcoming to the coming Christ as our home is to our in-laws, what is the point? Maybe we can have both, but we better figure out what comes first.
Last week I was sick, but I muscled through climbing on ladders and untangling lights and perusing photos on the internet. I spent a ridiculous amount of time solely on this tiny bar area of my family room.
I like it. It makes me happy. But the thing is that as I was setting this up I wondered if I needed to go back to Pier One again for more sparkly trees. I decided I should get an electrician to add more lighting in this space. I contemplated if I had enough batteries for the lights on the star to last for the season. I thought about the number of wine bottles that would make it symmetrical enough.
You want to know how many times I thought about Jesus during those hours?
You can probably guess.
My mantle looks pretty good. My staircase is hung with garland and lights. There are poinsettias in the foyer and the dining table is sparkling with silver and gold. But this morning, after many full days of running around like my hair was on fire, arranging, rearranging and rearranging the new arrangement, the room in my heart looks like this:
As Howell writes, "If we have no joy, is it because we have no room for joy? . . .The room in me seems too shabby for the splendid Lord to enter."
The King of Kings was not born in a room with perfectly placed pillows, an artfully decorated mantle and a tablescape. He was born among dirty stable animals in the muck and the mud. And He isn't fooled by all the rooms that are perfect. He knows about that messy room where I threw all the trash and clutter. He knows about the resentment in my heart and the anxiety and the people-pleasing and the fear of not being good enough. And guess where He wants to hang out? Right there. Right there in the middle of my jacked up heart. All I gotta do is just shove some of that muck aside and make some room for Him.
Let's take just a moment today to shift our focus from the rooms in our home to the room in our heart. Create a space. It doesn't have to be pretty. It just has to be open.