I wanted to write something exquisite to you all for Christmas.
Something that would give your heart pause and infuse the beauty and miracle of the season with my best, most moving prose.
But I kept coming up empty.
I couldn’t figure out if I had writer’s block or if I’ve just lost the spirit of Christmas.
But then I realized, Christmas has more often than not felt bittersweet for me. I’ve always had a difficult time reconciling the glitz and glee with the brokenness and need of not only my heart, but the hearts of everyone in the whole world.
Take the other day, for instance. If you didn’t know, I am a registered nurse. I’ve been practicing for over 20 years now on busy medical/surgical and pediatric floors where pain and worry don’t stop just because there’s tinsel strung across the halls.
We had a hot breakfast with our team and enjoyed laughter and fellowship in the middle of a playroom filled with toys to distract sick and yes, sometimes dying, kids.
Later that afternoon, Santa came and ho-ho-ho’d and grinned his best grin from under his fluffy beard. He brought his elves and a sack full of goodies into every child’s room, the pink in their cheeks belying, if only for a moment, their pain.
We ate chocolate at the nurses’ station as the first drips of chemotherapy flowed into a newly diagnosed patient’s veins, while across the hall a team thrust a chest tube into the side of a baby who couldn’t–or wouldn’t–breathe without it.
Christmas is a human invention, and maybe we do need a little of it, as the song goes, to distract us like toys in a playroom from our dying selves.
But the problem with Christmas is December 26.
December 26, when heartache is real again, when brokenness is as torn and wide open as the empty boxes under the sagging tree, when the lights dim and the night…is…silent.
The problem with Christmas is that hope doesn’t come with tinsel and lights and bells and songs.
…with mercy, like a chest tube allowing a sagging lung to reinflate.
…like the slow, imperceptible drip of life-saving medication into a patient’s arm.
…in the darkness where tears stream down a mother’s face as she struggles to console her fevering child.
Oh, how it comes.
Just not where we expect it.
Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, ascrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed.
~Isaiah 53:1-6 (TMV)