Sunday, December 23, 2012

Presence not Perfection

My parents prayed for our family before they left to head back to Tennessee. This is not unusual in our family. We are not usual as a family, I should add. One line stuck out to me though, and I have been mulling it over in my head since then. My dad prayed that when people come into our home that they would sense, not perfection, but Christ's presence.

May I put this in context for you?

December has turned into the month of sick (I told you this already), which has necessitated missing the last three weeks of church. This has been discouraging in more than a few ways. Neither the Man nor I are legalistic about making it to church on Sunday morning. We go because we want to worship Christ in the company of others who love Him; we go for the encouragement of being with other believers; we go because we want to learn more about Him from others who perhaps have a little more time during the week to study and pray and then pass on what they've learned. We don't go because we have to. During December, though, I also go because I love the Advent season.  It's been disappointing to miss the lighting of every single candle on the Advent wreath this year, even the candle that our family had been asked to light. I'm holding out hope that the boys are going to pull through so we can at least make the Christmas Eve service, but at this point there's a better chance that we're going to have a white Christmas--and we live in Oklahoma.

All this to say that while I am walking in gratitude and we are making some wonderful Christmas memories together as a family, it has been hard to realize Christ's presence in my life the last few weeks. Getting barfed on twice yesterday did not help. The perfectionist in me is cringing even being in our house these days: I haven't been able to clean like I normally do (between guests and sick boys), the bottom two feet of our tree look like they have been attacked by hungry wolves, my running routine has been sabotaged, my Bible study has gone out the get the point. It is a daily surrender to let go of my own agenda and just be with my sons, just be with my husband, just be with Jesus. And if I let go of my own desires for perfection (and also let go of my frantic attempts to avoid my imperfection), I think I might find the presence of God in my household already...

...cuddled beneath my chin, coughing in my lap...
...setting up train tracks for his son and making cocoa in the kitchen for his wife...
...hugging the dog and sharing flashlights with his little brother...

Maybe if I stopped regretting not seeing the Christ I want to see, I might see the Christ who is already there, waiting for me, in my imperfections, in my need.

It's easy to get caught up in how we want Christmas to be, really how we just, in general, want life to be. We draw out our plans, we make our schedules, we write our lists, and suddenly we aren't just doing this to our own lives, but we're doing it to Jesus. We are etching an image of Him that may or may not be true. And that's why I think he allows the unexpected in our lives, whether that is the month of sick or the grief of goodbye. It's not that He delights in our struggle but that He longs for us to know the real Him, and sometimes we get too caught up in what we think is reality, even good realities like Christmas, and forget to know Him--His reality--His truth--His presence.

This is what I'm learning this month. This and what the reality of His presence is reminding me of: that the joy of His birth always and only leads to the terrible grace of the Cross. I hope that years from now when my boys look back they would know that--more than the scraggly Christmas tree or the crumbled sugar cookies, more than the dog-accompanied car ride to see Christmas lights and the neatly wrapped presents, more than the stocking stuffers and the Christmas movies--that they would know that because He came we have life and that because He died, today is not just any other day, but one of joy in His presence.

1 comment:

  1. I think your dad's prayer is already true. Your home is peaceful and love-filled. You can't have that without Christ. Thanks for sharing.