6.12.16

Tracing rainbows

There's been a lot of change and a little bit of drama in my life lately.  Ellis has started his little play school, and to make a long story short, it's made the rest of life harder.  I've taken on a few new students teaching English so now I have to put on my teacher-hat again.  It's been a season of friends moving away and making new friends (the never-ending season here).  Ellis is growing and changing every day, which makes old, familiar, and comfortable routines hard to follow.  I had to figure out how to host a whole Thanksgiving meal this year. We also have been dealing with some very-much-uninvited houseguests (of the creepy-crawly kind) in our apartment, and Reuben refuses to cancel his weeks of travel to stay home to squash and spray things for me.  

I've always had the faith to trust God for the big things, but it's the small things day-to-day things that irk me.  Hoping that the babysitter will be able to make it this week.  Praying that Ellis won't totally embarrass me in public (oh, could I tell you stories!).  That my morning plans won't be ruined by the rain.  That we can get out of the door without a meltdown.   In a season of small but significant changes, where there are so many minor details to plan for and, naturally for me, worry about, my spirit has been heavy.  And rather than trust in God, or take a deep breath at the very least, what I have been wanting to do is...wallow in the heaviness.  One would hope that a delightfully optimistic and delicious holiday such as Thanksgiving could give my unsettled heart a break, at least for the day. But apparently my ever-present-houseguest worry did not get the memo.  





I don't like to have to struggle for joy or cheerful thanksgiving.  I would rather to default to it, especially at this time of year.  The holidays are a wonderful season to practice the spiritual discipline of celebration, and there's nothing like some hot cocoa, a nice smelling candle, and a cookie exchange to make my days merry and bright.  But as Thanksgiving has come and gone, my heart has been less than thrilled looking ahead.  I have to get out the Christmas decorations (the horrors!) and the Christmas cards need to be written and sent off in short order.  Dear readers,  I love decorating!  I love writing Christmas cards! and I don't even mind going to the post office because Ellis loves to chase the chickens and the turkeys. Perhaps this is what led to a light-bulb moment.  Not very profound, but profoundly powerful.  

I don't have to do what my feelings tell me.  

Perhaps most girls learn that lesson early on in life.  I'm just beginning to learn it in my 30s.  Someone once wrote that the most powerful influence in your life is you.  My own internal dialogue sways me more than any other person. Talk truth to myself and the outflow will pour out from what I believe.  
I haven't quoted a hymn here in a really long time, but wanted to share what I recently read was prolific-song-writer Fanny Crosby's favorite hymn - called O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, by George Matheson.  The first three verses go like this:



  1. O Love that will not let me go,
    I rest my weary soul in thee;
    I give thee back the life I owe,
    That in thine ocean depths its flow
    May richer, fuller be.
  2. O Light that foll’west all my way,
    I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
    My heart restores its borrowed ray,
    That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
    May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,

I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.


This will be me this holiday season: tracing rainbows. I will get up off the couch and I do what I need to do.  I will listen to truth.  I will practice self-care over self-comfort.  I will put food on the table.  Let Ellis unravel an entire ball of string because I don't have the heart to say "no" one more time (that was today).  I will pick out my own favorite children's books to read Ellis for bedtime just because I like them.  And I will lay my head on my pillow at the end of the day and give thanks.  Even when I don't really feel like it, even when the fog and the rain press against me.  The messiest times in my life have had more to do with feeling than belief.  

we are never alone or abandoned
The wor
ld is not as just, not as loving, not as whole as we know it can and should be. But
the coming of Christ and his presence among us
as one of us
give us reason to live in hope:
that light will shatter the darkness, that we can be liberated from our fears an
d prejudices, that
we are never alone or abandoned
The wor
ld is not as just, not as loving, not as whole as we know it can and should be. But
the coming of Christ and his presence among us
as one of us
give us reason to live in hope:
that light will shatter the darkness, that we can be liberated from our fears an
d prejudices, that
we are never alone or abandoned
And yes, I will find the Christmas tree that's stored away somewhere.  I will go to Starbucks on a rainy day to address those Christmas cards that have been blankly sitting on the table for a month.  I will hang up the wreath and bake cookies to pass to the neighbors.  We will light the Advent candles.  Not because Jesus won't be born if I don't "do" Christmas right, but it is sometimes the small, tangible things that give us glimpses of glory.  The thing about Advent is that it's not so much a celebration as it is a living out of radical faith.  There's a reason the church year starts here: we start from the beginning because we're at the end of ourselves.  We learn to live Advent.  We practice it by paying attention.  It is the glorious in the mundane we seek: we search for the small signs of God's sure presence.  We watch and we wait and we hope for all the broken things to be made new.  It for all of us who are broken, discouraged, fearful, or weary, because we know that the world is not as loving or just or whole as it should be.  But "on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned".   He uses my own personal rain cloud to project his dazzling prism of light.  



The beautiful thing about Advent is that we can practice it whether we feel like it or not.  To paraphrase Tim Keller: Christmas is not sentimental - it does not ask us to "Cheer up!"  Advent unites our own grief and longing with our hope and longing for Jesus.  Because the reality is that Jesus did come, whether we felt like it or not. And I think it needs to be said that He chose to come into this broken mess that the whole world seems to be grieving for right now.  Into my mess.  He didn't wait until you or I conveniently had our nations, our families, or our lives in order. Perhaps this is my greatest gift this year- that Advent - and the Christmas season -  isn't about how I feel but what I know.  So pay attention.  Wait in the rain and watch for rainbows.   Give thanks no matter what. Wait for the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem and wait with all creation for the second coming of Jesus, who will wipe every tear from every eye, heal every brokenness and redeem all things.  And this is what gives us reason to hope: that light will shatter the darkness.  That perfect love casts out fear.  That He is greater than our hearts and will never leave us or forsake us.   




No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.  -O Little Town of Bethlehem

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