Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
I often describe myself as skeptical. My husband is definitely an idealist, and my pragmatic realism makes us a good balance. This year is the first time Mary, the mother of Jesus, has looked like a kindred soul.
When the angel Gabriel first greeted Mary, he called her “highly favored” and proclaimed that the Lord was with her. Then Luke says that “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” That is, she was skeptical.
After Gabriel explained God’s plan for Mary, she was still in questioning mode: “How will this be since I am a virgin?” It is an excellent question. I appreciate that she was keeping an eye on the mechanics of this thing, and not just falling on her face and agreeing to any crazy prediction the angel made.
Mary trusted God and pledged herself as his servant in that conversation with the angel. But she didn’t sing the magnificat until after she’d seen her cousin Elizabeth. Reading it now, her visit with Elizabeth seems to have functioned largely as confirmation of the absurd promises delivered through Gabriel.
I want to be like Mary. I want to keep my brain turned on, to think hard about what is going on in my life and whether it is from God or from someplace else. I also want to be free to trust God. I doubt that Mary could have imagined that magnificent and horrible things that lay ahead of her. By God’s grace, she kept going.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Just before Thanksgiving I was talking to my brother and could hear the excitement of the upcoming weekend in his voice. It dawned on me that Thanksgiving and Christmas usually energize me and add a joyful shine to everyday life. Not this year. Everything feels heavy. I don’t care much for festivity or decor. There will be no tree in our house; I’ve told my family that I need the year off from gift-giving.
I think this is the clincher: there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I am sick. Of course, I was diagnosed with depression months ago, and I *know* that I am not well. But I have wished it away so often that every few weeks I think “You should be fine! Just work a little harder and pull yourself together.”
There have been other years when Christmas was shadowed by sadness. Life-altering news and the deaths of family members have come around in Decembers previous. Those times were like living in a house with a permanently darkened room: every day I passed through that cold darkness, but I also walked into other parts of the house where I felt content and entirely myself.
This Christmas I am living in a brown-out house and the furnace is on the fritz. I’ve called the power company, I’ve kicked the furnace, I’ve lit matches and gathered blankets. The whole place is still chilly and dim.
There is surely something to be said for carving away the accoutrements of the holiday and coming down to the bare bones of relying on Jesus, and the confidence that the sadness of this life will someday end and we will be with Him. It also sucks to be sad when everyone else seems to be having a great time.