The Holidays can be filled with magic and wonder, but for many, this season can be filled with heartache, frustration and depression. What should you do when your Christmas isn’t full of “Peace on Earth”?
This is exactly how I had been feeling for many years. I just wasn’t into the holidays. I thought of them more as something that was getting in my way. Oh sure we used to celebrate the holidays in style. I loved every minute of it. But changes in our family; one crisis after another and financial whoas left me a bit of a Scrooge. “The holiday’s are so much work.” “The kids probably won’t be here much anyways.” “I hate the holidays, they just make me think of what I have lost.” “We don’t have ______ to make it Christmasy.”
I just felt like if it wasn’t”just the way” I think Christmas should go, then it could not be “Christmas”. This was my holiday reality.
Then today as I listened to a children’s choir sing about Mary and her baby, it hit me. The first Christmas was anything but organized, magical, or peaceful. Things were NOT happening the way that they had planned. Mary and Joseph were engaged. I’m sure they sat and talked for hours about how everything would happen. Then life was completely turned upside down. Mary was pregnant. She wasn’t even married yet and worse, it wasn’t Joseph’s baby. Now she had to explain it to her fiance. She was young, scared and alone. When she finally told Joseph he was understandably upset.
Joseph was in love with Mary. The woman he loved was pregnant with someone Else’s baby!! That could put a cloud over anyone’s holiday plans. (Imagine that holiday dinner.) He had a lot of thinking to do. What was he going to do? Engagements were as binding as a marriage. He could either get her into a lot of trouble or because he loved Mary deeply he could divorce her quietly. He decided to quietly let her go.
After things got straightened out and Joseph heard the truth from the angel, he made up with Mary, things got better and they lived happily ever after…..wait no they didn’t. Things got worse. Taxes had to be paid and Joseph had to travel very far away to pay them. This was before auto deduct. The problem was that Mary would have the baby any day now and he couldn’t leave her alone. So he packed everything up for the ultimate holiday road trip.
Mary was tired and worn. She hoped the baby would wait to be born until they could get back home. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. The baby decided NOW was the time. There was no place to have the baby. Every place they tried was full. Hungry, tired and cold they finally found an old barn (or some say a cave) to rest for the night.
From Mary and Joseph’s perspective this looked like God’s plan had gone wrong. It felt like God was no where to be found. How could Joseph and Mary celebrate the birth of the Savior in all this disorder. Nothing felt right. But God had a different plan. In the middle of their mess and confusion, God was working out the biggest plan our little planet would ever see. He was bringing his son into the world to save his people.
That night they did celebrate. Our Savior was born despite the fact that things were not the way Mary and Joseph thought they should be.
Do you feel that Christmas just isn’t happening the way you thought it should happen? Do you feel that you could enjoy the holidays if only_________?
God’s plan is still being carried out in you whether you feel it or not. God is still with you and still has a purpose for your life even if it feels like a mess. There may not be money for elaborate gifts. You may have lost someone very dear to you this year. Your family may be scattered all over the country. You may not even know if you will have a place to stay starting in the new year. Mary and Joseph know. They know that life doesn’t ever go the way we planned. However they also know that the Savior of the world was born to save. That is something to celebrate.
This year I will be celebrating. Not because there is the perfect amount of gifts under the tree and not because everything went as planned this Christmas. I will be celebrating because my Savior came into the world into the arms of two imperfect people with two messed up lives. If God can pull off his ultimate plan in them, then he can pull off His plan for me and my family despite our mess and despite all that goes wrong.
by Christa Hannold