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Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas from the Grinch

Those who know me know that I am not a big fan of the whole Christmas holiday.  My friends jokingly refer to me Grinch as my annoyed groans quickly follow the start of Christmas music.  The moment the Christmas spirit fills the crisp winter air, I can be found shivering in the corner with my “Bah Humbug” attitude in full swing.

It’s not that I totally hate Christmas; I just dislike most things associated with it.  The rampant consumerism that terrorizes malls across the country, leaving retail workers exhausted and unappreciated, makes me frustrated.  Those with less are looked upon with pity rather than empathy. 

Christmas is also the time of the year when Christians get especially territorial, making sure to correct anyone who might let slip a “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”  After all, keeping the Christ in Christmas was one of Jesus main preaching points.  I’m pretty sure it was in the Sermon on the Mount somewhere. 

Then there is the element of family time at Christmas.  Though, I dearly love my core family unit of four, the holiday season requires venturing to the extended family territory which is not always exciting.  The family dysfunction found on both sides of my family brings me sadness as I watch those who have forsaken peace for bitterness and attention lifted up and people, like my parents, who have sacrificed more than anyone knows, trampled under their feet.  Any time we have to spend an extended amount of time in places of turmoil it makes me seriously wonder why I ever gave up drinking.

Those are the main reason why I tend to be more Scrooge like around the holidays, but this year has been very different.  Someone asked me a strange question recently that has been on my mind ever since, “Jess, how does it feel to be so loved by everyone?”  I didn’t really know how to answer that question because I had never really thought about it.  Admittedly, I am one who is quicker to see where I am rejected than where I am accepted. 

It’s also a new thing for me, to be so loved.  Most of my life any of the popularity I possessed was due to my successfulness as a conman.  Never before have I been seen in the authenticity of who I am and loved completely as I am by so many. 

The Christmas season has made me more aware of how beautiful a reality it is, to be seen and loved, faults and all.  I don’t know why it came as such a surprise to me, how much it made me love Christmas, because, really, unconditional love is what Christmas is about. 

Truly unconditional love; one that motivated a God, who had nothing to gain, to sacrifice all He had so that we could have everything.  The breathtaking scandal, that He would put on the fragility of humanity, coming in the most vulnerable of forms, and make us fall in love with Him as only a baby can. 

This God who knew from the moment of the first breath out of His infant lungs that His purpose here was to die, gladly came to be our Savior.  And He came not in strength and power but as a child, unable to do anything for Himself. 

How beautiful a love is this.

Then this precious baby, the illegitimate son of an unwed teen mom, lived and died for me.  To offer me complete forgiveness, acceptance, love, and righteousness, all while I was hanging Him on that cross. 

How beautiful a love is this.

So often we confuse Jesus and Santa Claus, in the church.  We make God out to be this watchful old man who checks His list to make sure we are measuring up before we get any blessings from Him.  We forget about that dysfunctional night in a manger that smelled of animal dung and wet hay, when God gave us the only gift we could ever need, without us ever earning it.

How beautiful a love is this.

This year, I have been showered with love by my friends, my church, and my family, though I feel as if I haven’t done much to deserve any of it.  I find myself overwhelmed at this very tangible reminder of that baby who came to give me righteousness in the midst of my brokenness. 

Remember that baby, not just this Christmas, but every day.  His grace and love for you is yours in every moment, not just the ones decorated with red and green.  Remember you are loved, my friends, live out of that truth today.

And to all the wonderful lights of love in my life, the Whos in my Whoville,  thank you.  For all that you are to me.  I am truly overwhelmed by the depth or your love for a tattered soul like me.  This Grinch’s heart grew two sizes this year. 

Grace and Peace to you always, my friends!

1 comment:

  1. I was also thinking about the whole Santa Clause thing earlier and remember some elementary kid telling everyone how Santa wasn't real and he's just there to make kids happy. I thought about it and was like, well, Santa Clause isn't real but St. Nicholas was, and the tradition was about giving something to the poor kids to make them happy. Its sad that society leaves out the true story of St. Nick just like they leave out the true story of Jesus Christ, but its not about that. Its about the gift of salvation and the gift of love, just as you say...great read Jess. Keep up the blog and be encouraged in remembering that the Kingdom of God is not of this world, its of Heaven.