Mess, Dirt, and Finding Beauty

 
Creativity is intelligence having fun..jpg
 

As Andy Williams once sang, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Our homes are decorated, there are gifts under the tree, our kids are wearing cute outfits, families are coming together, feasts are being prepared, cookies are being baked, and festive drinks are flowing. We spend hours, days, weeks, and even months planning and prepping to make this season the best it can be. We create family traditions and soak up every moment of festive joy. 

But in the beauty of this season, it's all too easy to get caught up in the culture of “perfect”. Or maybe it’s just me, but as I strive to carve out unforgettable family memories, I easily stress over the smallest oversight I may have made. I chastise myself for blemishes in my flawless plans and panic if Christmas doesn’t look like what I want or expected.  

And can’t help feel that I am alone in this. When I talk to friends, when I look on Instagram, everyone seems to be swept up in the festivities. Instead of the season of peace and goodwill it seems like the season of stress, anxiety, and striving.

As a Christian, I believe that this is a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. In the middle of a broken world, the Son of God came to earth as a baby. Majesty, beauty and perfection left the heavens and became Man. 

 And His birth was far from what we would ever have expected.  Luke 2:11-12 says, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 

Christ the Lord, the Savior, would be found in a manger. A manger is not a crib or a snazzy baby swing, but a structure used to feed animals. It’s something that you add to your Target or Pottery Barn baby registry, lest give to the Son of God!!! But that is where you would have found Jesus. Beauty, Majesty, and Perfection was inside a dark, dirty, messy animal shelter, not a palace or fancy birthing center. 

This blows my mind and challenges the heck out of me, because I don’t want my life to be messy. I want the perfect Christmas with the clean house, the well-behaved kids, and a plethora of presents. I want a home where people come and there’s always food and laughter. I want my life to look like a Hallmark movie, not like the nativity! I don't want to be surrounded by lack. I want beauty. I want plenty. I want perfection. 

Most people would have missed the birth of Jesus. Most people would have expected a palace, top physicians, and most definitely a clean nursery for the newborn king. But the magi and shepherds were looking for something different. They saw through the mess, the dirt, and the mundane.

I want to be like the magi and shepherds. I want to find something Divine even in the imperfections of life. I want to look past what I expect so I can encounter something priceless.

And maybe something so profound is actually happening, but we are fixated on our own version of the palace that we miss it. Maybe we can find beauty in our hearts and homes, no matter how hard we have planned, scrimped, and saved. Maybe we can embrace a glorious reality despite our expectations not being met. 

So this Christmas, let us remember that the King of kings, the ultimate power, authority, and Creator was found in mess. And if that’s good enough for God, perhaps it should be good enough for us too? 

Mary, Did You Know?

I love Christmas music! During this season I drive down the highway singing at the top of my lungs. From “Oh Holy Night” to “We Need a Little Christmas”, I love to crank up these tunes! This year one of my top picks has been the Pentatonix version of “Mary, Did You Know?” Oh, shut the front door, this song is amazing! I lay in bed the other morning playing the song on my iPhone, whilst my sweet Victoria Joy was asleep in my arms.

(If you have not heard this version, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifCWN5pJGIE)

“Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?

Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?

Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?

And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God”

As I looked at my baby, I can’t imagine what Mary experienced. Can you imagine kissing your baby and you are kissing the face of God? Can you imagine looking at your baby and knowing that they have walked with the angels? This is intense stuff!

The bible doesn’t say much about Mary. We know that she gave birth in a stable (so I am assuming there was no epidural or oversized tub to birth in), she was a virgin and was only engaged, not married, to Joseph.

When I was engaged to Josh, the furthest thought in my mind was that I would have an immaculate conception and birth the Son of God. I was thinking about our wedding, where we will live and where we would travel together. I started to plan our life and dream about “us”. Who would we know? What fun chapters lay in front of us? I was so excited!

So what makes Mary any different? She was engaged and about to start a whole new life. And then BAM! She meets an angel that derails her plans. This angel announces that Mary was going to give birth to the Son of God (again, rather intense!) BEFORE she was married. She would have to tell her fiancé about this crazy encounter. Would he believe her?  Would he assume she had slept with another man? And what about her family? Would they think she was lying to cover up some sordid affair? Her future, her reputation and the dream of a new life with Joseph were all on the line.

And yet her response to the angel is breathtaking. “Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38, NKJV).

Her plans were wrecked and yet her response is, “OK. Let God’s plans prevail over my own.”

Whenever my plans are derailed, I do not take it as well as Mary. I kick and scream. I rant and rave. I ignore God then yell at Him that He’s cruel. I don’t surrender like Mary. I don’t let go of my plans, my expectations and my ideas to embrace what God wants to give to me. Granted, He’s not planning to make me the mother of His child, but every day we have a choice; do we hold on (and follow my aforementioned example) or do we, like Mary, surrender?

Mary was the first Elsa from Frozen… She let it go. She let her plans go and embraced what was scary.  And that plan ended up giving hope and life to more people than Mary ever could comprehend. And somehow, I don't think she realized the full repercussions of her conversation with the angel.

And this Christmas, my prayer is that we can all embrace the scary, the vulnerable and what is uncomfortable. May we let go of our own expectations and our reputations so that we can embrace the life of faith and adventure! And who knows… The plans that God has for us may just bless more people than we realize.