For When You Wanted Christmas to be Perfect and It's Really Just a Mess

It had a been a busy week at our house, trying to fit birthday party planning in with the normal holiday craziness and schoolwork and life. When the days are full and I literally run from one thing to the next, I get this tightness in my chest that I can't seem to shake. The apprehension of things to come, the anxiety of fitting it all in, the worrying that it won't. It's like the busyness weighs on me and makes it hard to breathe. Hard to think. Impossible to write.

I don't do well with weeks like that. I get impatient and cranky. I hurry, rush and stress. Or at least I feel like I am all the time. And you know those days when you're so cranky you can't even stand being around your own self? Yeah.

Come Wednesday I'd had enough of myself and all the running. I wanted to breathe again and not be so frustrated with the kids all the time.

As I turned right off of our street and drove down the road to pick up the kids from school, I whispered a brief, quiet prayer to God…

I can't do this anymore. I'm sick of the hurrying and the hurting and the crankiness. I don't want to have another night like the ones we've had this week, and I know I can't do it myself. But you can. Please help me to somehow love my kids well, be slow to anger, and find joy in the mess.

We arrived at the school, and the kids ran up and piled into the van, relieved to be out of the cold. We went home and had snacks and worked on homework and I got dinner ready and on the table in record time, which never usually happens around here. My husband got home from work a little early and we all sat around the table and talked about our highs and lows.

After the table was cleared, my son sat down with my husband to do his nightly reading. I was across the room loading the dishwasher and listening to him give the characters in the story different voices and sound effects. Smiling and chuckling to myself, I put another fork and knife into the silverware basket.

Then it hit me.

I haven't yelled. I haven't been frustrated by things that would normally drive me nuts. I've smiled at my kids and even found joy in the chaos that is our after-school-homework-completing-sit-down-and-keep-your-hands-to-yourself-family-dinner craziness that is our weekday life.

I stood quietly and marveled at that small miracle, gratitude filling my heart. All it took was an invitation, and God showed up and did His thing. So seamlessly that I hadn't even noticed until it was already in motion.

Isn't it funny that all around you life can be a mess, yourself included, and all it takes is an invitation, a simple surrender, to usher in the presence of a Holy God. 
Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.
And Mary said,
Yes, I see it all now:
I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me
just as you say.
Then the angel left her.
Luke 1:37-38 {MSG}
Jesus wasn't haphazardly born into a messy stable surrounded by stinky farm animals and dirty shepherds--He chose that very place on purpose and for His glory. Nothing about that very first Christmas, that Holy Night, would strike us as perfect. In fact, we would probably say it was far from ideal. An unplanned trip about 70 miles to Bethleham on the back of a donkey, nine months pregnant and exhausted? Finally arriving after dark to find that there is absolutely nowhere to stay, not one room?

Perfect situation? Ideal circumstances? Not so much.

The one and only perfect thing about that very first Christmas was Jesus Himself. And that's still true today. Jesus thrives in the mess. He can be glorified in the mess. All it takes is an invitation.