Happy Very Belated Thanksgiving!
Or, Merry Christmas, Very Early!
Yesterday I started pulling out the Christmas decorations and trying to get the house looking festive. I announced it on Instagram last night, but I feel that it bears repeating: this year I am decorating a filthy house. Truly, filthy. Very, very dirty, disorganized, the whole shebang.
If I wait until I catch up, wait until I get the house back to level zero to start decorating, we'd be putting up a tree in mid-January. Honestly. I think that's the truth.
I'm clearly struggling a little bit here, you guys.
I'm struggling with a dirty house, and with feeling behind, and overwhelmed, but that's all normal. At least I think it is.
The bigger, weightier issue, the deeper darker, is that I'm struggling with anger and exhaustion.
I'm struggling with anger and exhaustion in a season meant for thankfulness.
It's not pretty, and I can't think of a way to say it that's more charming or cheerful, but it's the truth. I'm angry a lot of the time. I'm tired a lot of the time. The week or so before Thanksgiving was really hard for me, because I love Thanksgiving and I want to be thankful and I want to help my kids to learn about thankfulness and about the soul-transforming power of gratitude. I want MY soul to be transformed by gratitude!
But, it turns out, it's really hard to be angry AND thankful at the same time.
It also might be pertinent to mention that I have no real reason to be angry. Nothing has happened since we last spoke. No one has committed a grievous offense against me.
I described it to a friend recently by saying that I just feel like my fuse has gotten reeeeeally short. If it used to be this long: ----------------------------, then now it's this long: ---.
I'm angry at Maggie for not putting on her shoes the 11th time I asked. I'm angry at Henry for whining about what's for lunch. I'm angry that my baby doesn't sleep through the night. I'm angry at David for not cleaning the kitchen the RIGHT way. I'm angry at the slow car in front of me on the parkway. I'm angry at the cat for meowing. I'm angry that my house is never clean and that I'm supposed to cook dinner every damn night and that we make so much laundry and that it's cold outside. I'm angry that I'm not exercising more. I'm angry that I don't read books anymore. I'm angry that I feel out of touch with my friends because I'm too busy and overwhelmed to call or email or hangout. I'm angry because I feel like there are no MARGINS in my life right now, and I have no idea how to create them and if I hear one more thing about self-care or putting on an oxygen mask first or carpe dieming, I'm going to throw a dish scrubber at someone's face. I'm angry that there are two Starbucks within 3 miles of me and NEITHER OF THEM HAS A DRIVE THRU.
I'm angry. I'm cranky. I'm discontent.
Do you hate me yet? I totally hate me right now. I'm an absolute buzzkill.
I did a scripture reading program over the Thanksgiving weeks, and I really enjoyed it. I'm not sure if it made me more thankful. I'm not even sure if it made me less angry or less discontent or less impatient.
But it did make me... quieter? Yes, I think quieter is the right word. Maybe more thoughtful, too. Mostly quieter. And quiet is good. I like it when my insides are quiet. Recently my insides (and my outsides) have been doing a fair amount of yelling, so quiet is good. I'm thankful for quiet.
There, see? I'm thankful for something. I'm thankful for quiet.
But mostly, I'm thankful that Thanksgiving has given way to Advent. I am thankful for Advent.
I like Advent the best. The very, very, very best of all the seasons and of all the holidays and all of the times of year, even though it's cold outside.
I'm thankful for it, because in so many ways, it is a season that admits discontent. A season that is based on the WHOLE IDEA that things are not okay. Not just me, but the whole dang world and every person in it is very, very, very much, not okay.
It's a season that allows us to sit. That encourages us to wait. To indulge in longing. To give in to that current of discontent, that feeling that things are not yet as they should be.
Our marriages are not what we thought they would be. Our families are not as they should be. Our lives don't look exactly the way we hoped they would. Our kids, our bodies, our jobs, our bank accounts, our health, our hopes, our futures, so very many things, and possibly all the things are not as they should be.
I can admit that I am not what I should be. That I am not what or who I want to be. That my family is not who I want them to be. That the whole earth creaks and groans under the weight of it's own brokenness. The tiny spidery cracks that run through us all are getting bigger.
That we are all, somehow, someway, waiting. Longing.
I am feeling my need for a Savior desperately right now. I am absolutely, completely convinced that I have reached the end of my own reserves of kindness and mercy and generosity and patience. And at the bottom of those reserves is anger. Anger and selfishness and greed. So, I run out of my own goodness, and I start spewing out anger all over the place.
It's not pretty, but it's the truth.
But I think it's also the truth that my shallow reserves and my anger, are not the ONLY true things.
It's also true that this season of waiting, it gives way to the birth of a King.
It's true that we're not just waiting until things get better or we get better or this stage ends.
It's true that we are waiting for Jesus. And that we are allowed to wait with hope and despair and honesty and joy and grief.
It's true that those who were walking in darkness, have seen a great light.
It's true that long we have lain, in sin and darkness pining, until He appeared, and our souls felt their worth.
It's true that when He was born they named Him Immanuel, that his name meant, "God is with us." With us! With me! Cranky, whiny, angry me.
And it's true that the entire gospel, the cornerstone that I have staked my whole heart on, is summed up in Christmas. That God so loved us, loved us so damn much, that he sent his son to us, so that whoever believes in Him can live forever.
Even if they are angry and whiny and discontent and a total buzzkill, like me, Jesus still comes.
Advent is for all of us, for the worst of us and the best of us, but I think mostly for the worst of us. Because Jesus is for the worst of us, and for the worst parts of us.
So tonight, I'm going to pick out a Christmas tree with my sweet family, and put it up in my dirty living room and let the kids help decorate it. And I'm going to try really hard not to yell at anyone.
But just on the OFF CHANCE that these festivities don't go EXACTLY the way I planned them, on the SLIM, BARELY THERE CHANCE that I start to feel angry at everyone and no one, I'm going to try really hard to pray.
To remember that I am waiting. That Jesus came and that Jesus is coming. And that Immanuel means that God is with me.
With me! And you, too. And that's one thing I think I can feel merry about.