This Broken Christmas

I was thinking last week, walking quiet and heavy under the burden of the kindness of others, that it seems God breaks me every Christmas. He breaks my heart, my will, my pride, and when I start to think that, yes, here I am standing on these two feet, I find myself broken again.

Christmas seems like the wrong time to be broken, like an unfair time. Break me in summer and sunshine, maybe, or at Halloween– yes, what would be wrong with a little breaking at Halloween, if breaking must come, so that I have time to build up again in time for Joy! and Mirth! and Celebration! at Christmas. Christmas isn’t supposed to be hard.

So we tell ourselves, remembering perhaps with misty softness some childhood magic before life became so rocky and grown-up and responsible and sometimes just flat-out horrible. Or perhaps we let ourselves be drawn into the message the commercials sing loud and brazen: buy your happiness here! and we rush and overspend and panic to purchase or create the perfect Christmas for ourselves and our children and then, when the toys we thought so important lie broken an hour after the ribbon is untied, we crash down and think of how unfair it is that Christmas should be so hard.

We are deceived.

For Christmas, whatever we think it should be or do, serves as a magnifying glass for the hurts and insecurities and griefs and shames and inequities in our lives. Whether we compare our Christmas to some romantic half-truth memory, or the Christmas our neighbors are having, or the lies the stores sell us all wrapped up in pretty paper, we find our Christmases never match up. And we feel that sting, and cry out– where is my peace on earth?

Perhaps we compare our Christmas to the wrong Christmas. Perhaps instead of looking around us, we should look back– back– two thousand years back to that barn and that baby. You want an imperfect Christmas? Behold the young unwed mother; the long, miserable journey; the inn with no room; the manger.

Why did He come that way? Why did He come in such a tiny, broken way, instead of like the Mighty God Jehovah that He was?

He came because we are broken. He came to meet us, here, in our lowliness, our fallen shame, our griefs and sorrows, our broken hearts and our pain and our desperate needy brokenness. And He came with peace and goodwill, but we look under the tree or in our wallet or in that empty chair at our dinner table to find it instead of looking to Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs, carried our sorrows!

In the middle of our brokenness, He finds us, and when we sit alone in sorrow or put on a show of cheer for our children or spend another sleepless night in worry and pain, He is there. And He is the God of all comfort.

And He is with us, not in spite of our brokenness, but because of it. For it.

He whose coming we celebrate at Christmas came in brokenness, and carried our brokenness to His tree, and bears it for us and with us and is always, always here– our Emmanuel– always and forever when we look for Him.

And so if you, like me, face a Christmas this year with a shadow overhead– big or small– or more than one shadow– be it loneliness, illness, financial distress, disappointment, discouragement, loss, grief– will you remember with me that He came for you, for this very Christmas, this very imperfect, broken holiday? And will you let Him be your Prince of Peace?

He has come. He abides with us. He is the answer for this broken Christmas.

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26 thoughts on “This Broken Christmas

  1. This has truly ministered to my heart today as well. I am having a kinda of melancholly day of brokeness. Thanks! This was right on time. Just like Jesus, lways on time!

  2. “not in spite of our brokenness, but because of it. For it”.

    it was Christmas 2001 when my idealistic dreams of Christmases died. I was 7 months pregnant, sprained my ankle, and found myself on crutches. unable to “do” Christmas. But Christmas happened. Jesus came and lived in my “not the way i wanted it life” any way.

    Thank you Jesus for coming to be Emmanuel God with us in the joy and sorrow, in the celebration and the grief, in the everything.

    you are truly beautiful erin.

  3. Erin, this is so beautiful, and so true. Finished reading with tears streaming down my face. May you and your family have a blessed Christmas, focused on the true gift.

  4. Beautiful. You could not have said it better, Erin. You are such an amazing writer – thanks for letting God use you and your brokenness this Christmas season to encourage me – I am going through a difficult, busy, overwhelmed season, and I really appreciate this beautiful reminder of God’s grace and strength.

  5. thanks, Erin for sharing this! I needed it! I am having a “broken” Christmas this year. I am not in the Christmas spirit this year with our year of separation. Nothing seems right, but God is breaking my will once again and l am daily learning to submit to Him and be content in HIM.

  6. Oh … my.

    I had to jump over from the Google reader, but I really have nothing profound to say here, Erin. I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated this. … This Broken Christmas.

    Grateful for your voice.

  7. You are so right, dear friend. This year it seems there are so many shadows, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But what are those beautiful words about the coming of the Christ-child?

    “The people who walked in darkness
    Have seen a great light;
    Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)

    He came, in a broken and weak form, to this shadowy world, to shine light on our darkness and to heal our brokenness.

  8. Pingback: If You Need Something Good to Read Today « Together for Good

  9. Our perfect Lord came to earth–God with us, in our imperfect world, our imperfect circumstances, our imperfect families and lives and selves.

    I’m a sinner in need of a Savior.

    A perfect Savior.

    Thank God He has come to us, to abide with us, our Lord Immanuel.

    So glad to slip over from TheHighCalling.org today.

    Ann Kroeker
    Content Editor
    TheHighCaling.org

  10. Amazing post. I’m so grateful to hear someone say these things. I’m always sad at Christmas time and since having my own family, am frequently disappointed at the lack of “magic”. Thank you for putting those thoughts into perspective and reminding me it’s okay that things aren’t perfect. Beautiful.

  11. Congrats on being featured at THC! This is a wonderful post, and I can totally relate…God has met me many, many times in my brokenness. I’m sooo glad He carries us close to his heart.

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