Nothing about the past two weeks has gone the way I imagined.
Two weeks ago, my husband Brad complained of back pain. As his pain worsened in the ensuing days and he found himself unable to walk, to stand, and eventually, to sit comfortably, we knew this was different than previous times when he experienced back pain.
Yesterday, my relaxed Saturday morning that I imagined spending by the Christmas tree and writing, changed. I needed to drive Brad to his MRI. Afterwards, I needed to pick up a prescription for him. By the time I returned home, it was almost lunch time.
I would love to tell you these unexpected changes to my daily life have provided opportunities for me to show extra compassion, patience, and love to my husband. But I’ve failed. Often. My fix-it nature, coupled with fear and worry for him, affect the way I respond to him and our changing circumstances. Sadly, these moments don’t always bring out the best in me.
This December, I’m learning what it means to accept a situation that I can’t control in real time. Haven’t I written about this before? I’m coming to grips with the fact that this Christmas may look very different than what I expected.
In the midst of my personal disappointment and frustration, I’m wanting to learn what it means to hold loosely my plans and expectations, especially during a season that is all about expectations.
A number of my Advent readings have been both instructive and comforting. When I think about the nativity story, it seems that Mary and Joseph had to change their plans to—a number of times. I’m not sure how far into Mary’s pregnancy they knew they would have to head to Bethlehem for the census, but my sense is that the Roman Empire was fairly organized so I imagine they had some time to prepare. But, still. Having to leave the comforts of home in the final weeks of pregnancy for a census isn’t high on anyone’s list of favorites.
The birth of Jesus also contained surprises. No place for Mary and Joseph to stay until a kind innkeeper opens his home to them. Later, they have to escape to Egypt because Herod wants their son dead. All of these situations contain elements of the unexpected, the unpredictable. But Scripture is clear that God was with Mary and Joseph throughout, and that promise extends to me today in my circumstances.
So, I’m on the lookout.
Keeping my eyes open for God and the daily reminders of his presence—a good conversation with a friend, a beautiful sunset, a walk outside. These simple moments set me back on the right path. They force me to take my eyes off myself and to see God’s deep, abiding love for me and my family.
Wishing you and yours a joyous Christmas and a Happy New Year!