In my ideal world I would have darling Christmas pictures of all my kids in coordinated outfits, all smiling joyfully in front of a gift-laden Christmas Tree. I would be peacefully sipping Christmas cider right now, all the chores done and everything ready, anticipating the big night tonight.
Reality, however, took a different road this year. For the past ten days I have been woefully behind and overwhelmed. Between Baby Bear's normal night-time shenanigans (he doesn't settle down to sleep until 12:30 or 1:00) and Little Mister's battle with plugged plumbing, I have not gotten enough sleep for two nights, let alone ten. The dark snowy roads trapped me in my house preventing extra shopping and the house magically barfed an extra five loads of laundry into my utility room from who knows where. The gifts I have managed to procure sit in plastic bags all over my floor, as yet unwrapped. The packing for five people to go to Grandma's house has not even begun. The piece we're playing for the Christmas Ever service which should have been arranged and rehearsed weeks ago, just got written this morning.
So although it sounds trite and cliché, especially to me who has endured so many Christmas sermons over the years, this year instead of perfectly wrapped presents with shiny bows, I choose instead to think about the most important Gift, Jesus, who was given to the world two thousand years ago. Whether He came on December 25th (or the 8th of Tevet) doesn't matter. He came. He came from Paradise to our crippled old earth to bring a message of peace. Not a message of political peace but a message of inner peace, of reconciliation with our creator that we haven't managed to bring about on our own no matter how hard we try to live perfect, tinsel-wrapped lives.
As much as I would like to have my life all together, to have shiny perfect kids and a shiny perfect house and a shiny perfect life, I'm actually grateful for the reminder that Jesus came for those of us who will stoop to admit we're not perfect. He came for the ones who don't have it all together, for the ones who have messed up, for the ones who are tired and hurting and whose lives don't make sense. He came for me, to bring to me the thing I desire the most but can never obtain on my own: inner peace. Only in Him can that moment come when I can let all of the self-loathing and stress and inner turmoil go, washed away in His forgiving love. It's when I can finally receive God's love, not by being good enough; just the opposite. It's when I am the least worthy and finally let go to receive the gift of Jesus' forgiveness that all of the imperfections standing between me and a holy God get washed away and I can stand with relief, finally able to be Loved.
This year there are no color-coordinated pictures. No easy, stress-free holiday and no Christmas baking. But perhaps more than any other Christmas, there is Joy, so deep and strong it brings me to tears. For I am loved. I am blessed with three beautiful children, a husband who cares about me and most of all, I am loved by a Savior who chose to come to earth as a tiny, helpless baby, who grew into a man and died a painful death in order to shed gallons of His own precious blood as payment for every sin I have ever committed. And He would have done it if I was the only person in the entire world in all of history. I feel like the shiniest person in the world this Christmas!