Wednesday, December 24, 2014
It is the first night I've sat quiet under the Christmas tree. The kids are tucked snug in their beds, the house is still, the lights dim. This is my favorite part of the season, the reward at the end of my to-do list, the reason I (try to) start planning for the holidays early. There is something peaceful and reflective and cozy about this setting, something that seems absent or overlooked the other months of the year. Perhaps this peace is always available and it's seeming allusiveness is my own doing, as I'm distracted by the glitz of the TV or the false need for noise, oblivious to the fact that I'm exhausting my soul rather than feeding it. Or maybe it's that God in flesh seems so much tangible this time of year, the reality of a mighty God entangling Himself in human flesh to free me from the entanglement of sin.
And so I sit under the tree and reflect, consider the life God has given me. I am blessed beyond description, although sometimes it's hard to recognize the blessing in the normal without stepping back and looking with new eyes. The weight of the day-to-day tries to overshadow the grace God weaves through the mundane. Tonight, I am keenly aware of that grace as I look at the ornaments on the tree, recognize the passage of time each represents.
When I was a new mom, strangers would stop me, and they all offered the same message: "enjoy it, they grow so fast." And I'd smile and nod and wonder if they had any idea how exhausted I was, how tired I was of wiping noses and bottoms and sticky floors, how time must be treating me completely different than it did them. And then suddenly twelve years have passed in an instant and instead of wiping noses and singing lullabies, I'm having tough conversations that range from sin and atonement to mini-skirts and the opposite sex.
As I sit under the tree tonight, I realize that while I was deep in the toddler trenches longing for sleep, I was wishing away precious moments. In retrospect, I see that those strangers were trying to tell me to embrace even the mundane moments; to slow down, ignore the piles of laundry and cheerios on the floor and be fully present with my children. I regret that often times I felt I had nothing left in me to do just that, to have the conversations at bedtime, to laugh and be silly and enjoy the chaos that was my life ... ultimately to find beauty in that chaos.
While I'm out of the toddler trenches (and admittedly, it's hard not to say that without doing a bit of a happy dance), life comes so fast, it is easy to let the moments pass and simply ride the momentum. As I see the rate at which my children are growing, I'm trying to get off the ride. I'm discovering the value of playing Legos past bedtime, of postponing my to-do list to address the deep questions, of reading to them while they still want me to. Part of me feels like I'm starting all these practices a little late. But regret will accomplish nothing, so I push on, thankful that God is opening my eyes and rearranging my priorities before I lose any more time. I know I will have setbacks, nights that I go to bed frustrated with myself. But my prayer is that next year, as I sit quiet under the Christmas tree, I will be able to look back at a year full of seized opportunities, deep conversations, and abundant laughter. That God's grace will be woven through our chaos with a scarlet thread proclaiming His intimate involvement in our lives.