I had this article neatly written out in my head last night. It was going to be a sweet little piece about the joys of having children. I was helping my daughter overcome her fears of the dark and thought, “Isn’t this nice. I can bring such comfort just by being here. Motherhood is so lovely.”
Fast forward 24 hours. I am sitting in my girl’s room yet again, but this time the house smells of vomit and spray cleaner. I spent the day coaxing sips of water into the girls just to have it thrown back up again, monitoring temperatures, and doing load after load of laundry. At one point immediately after my oldest threw up all over one room and my toddler peed all over another (it’s like they planned it!), I found myself scrubbing on my hands and knees and I honestly just wanted to cry. I am certain that most parents know the feeling.
But then something happened that completely shifted my perspective. My daughter looked at me – my hair a mess, reeking of vomit, clothes stained – and said, “Thank you for doing this Mommy. You’re doing everything you can all day to be kind to us. I love you.” And in the words of Dr. Suess, my heart “grew three sizes that day.”
Beautiful things can happen in the muck and mire of ordinary life. I did nothing extraordinary today, certainly nothing that countless other parents haven’t done many times over. But when my children felt their worst and weakest I was there. I remember these moments with my own mother. How her mere presence in my pain brought a warm glow and chased away the shadows, like she carried the very sun within her body. So when all I saw was mess and disaster, my children saw something else, and they saw something else in me.
Motherhood is a sure-fire place to find disasters, as many of us know all too well. But it doesn’t end there. Because when we open our front doors or boot up social media, chaos is there to greet us. We live in a world right now that is tearing itself apart. We meet debate, drama, and despair around every corner. Plus, it is now the Christmas season, the time when the hurting hurt even more. When the loneliness held at bay all year begins to wind its cold fingers around bleeding hearts. And yet…
In a small, smelly stable thousands of years ago, Light came into this hurting world. Tremendous beauty found in the mess of the mundane, here to save us all.
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:4-5
I forget this sometimes. I become detached, accepting that I have been saved but not giving it much more thought. But I am missing out. The comfort I brought to my children today and the comfort my mother brought to me as a child both pale in comparison to what Christ can offer. Though I am grown, in my heart I am still that scared child reaching out for a parent to take the hurt away. I want so desperately to be rescued from the sadness and pain of this world. And what a joy to know that I have somewhere to turn.
That the act of compassion in the stable that night means I am not alone. When I plunge into darkness I have a light. When my blood runs cold I have warmth. When I stumble and falter He is there to catch me, if only I let Him. He was there in that messy manger and he is here in my messy life.
I don’t know what life is like for you this Christmas. I don’t know whether you are basking in the twinkling lights of the tree or that your heart grows heavy with the season. Maybe it’s a little of both. But there is no place that you can be where He cannot meet you. That is the promise of the season, and I am doing my best to remember it. I hope you do too.
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