Humanity is poetry

A long time ago, before I had half a dozen kids and lost my mind, I thought the most beautiful thing in God’s creation was humanity. I used to feel everything: other people’s joy and loss. It could get overwhelming because even watching a sit com was an emotional roller coaster. It starts off as every day, builds to a crisis, and boom, in 20 minutes after commercials, it was all great again.

I knew then that God made us as perfectly imperfect beings that could feel emotions that only deities should feel. Rich love, sorrow beyond measure, and everywhere in between. Even good and evil played off each other in the arts to make a symmetry that can only be described as beauty.

Busyness has crept in and clouded my head. I’ve been a mom for 21 years. My youngest is 6. All but one of my kids have had hurdles to overcome that took a whole lot of my attention. The last one had major medical issues at the same time one of my older ones was fighting drug and alcohol addiction. The last few years have been a test of perseverance like none other. Nothing like getting totally distracted and forgetting what you used to know is true.

Its times like that that you think you have a good footing, until you get sucker punched by the evil in humanity. I had gotten so busy I had forget what humanity is: beauty God has created. Poetry encased in skin. The lines of poetry carry us to see, and relate to, wondrous love and diabolical selfishness.

Christmas and all its trappings are human-made. Its ok, though. Don’t call me a heretic just yet. Its a time to remember Jesus becoming human, adding lines to the poetry of humanity. Celebrate Him as the savior of humanity. The good and the bad of life, and of people, are going to be there, but that is the art that makes a savior so needed. That’s why in all the really good stories and epic poems, the hero wins. They all mirror reality.

Celebrate Jesus, the rest is all for fun

From my last post,  you could tell that this year Christmas has been illusive for me. Its been more of a holiday depression than anything. I believe in the birth of a savior, born of a virgin, who later took on the sins of the world. So belief is not the problem, but then, what is my problem?

Frankly, I think I am. We are. People are. I’m a little too sensitive. Everything people say and the way they say it, gets lodged in my head and replays over and over. I can filter out people for whom I don’t have respect. That’s easy enough. But then what about the people you do respect when they completely contradict what you believe is true? Or worse, what about people who supposedly believe like you but have no respect for you?

We see this on Facebook often. “If you don’t share my post it means you hate Jesus!” and their post is a picture of Jesus – you know, the one where he looks like he’s strung out on dope. Or, if you dare say “Happy holidays!” you hate Jesus. Or, “if you tell your kids about Santa you are teaching nothing but lies, and we celebrate the REAL meaning of Christmas!”

That’s just on Facebook. Other pressures come from family that have expectations about when to have dinner or how much or how little you should spend. Our children have expectations about making cookies, shopping, lists for Santa, and when to put up the tree. There are school parties and room moms expect you to donate tubs of frosting, volunteer time and send in money. Office parties mean making crockpots of breakfast casserole, hoping (praying) for a bonus this year, and cards and candy for co-workers.

I know I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know. My point is, the level of expectations out there is insane. As a working parent of several kids I have juggled all this as best i could for several years and I’ve usually at least made a passing grade as a human at Christmas time. At least the tongue clucking hasn’t reached me yet and most years I never seem to get the Christmas cards mailed.

I’m very experienced at the expectations game… Until this year. This year I realized that some of those other people that have it all down and shout at others for not knowing the “reason for the season” may say all the right things but they missed the point of the reason when it comes to actually loving others.

BINGO! That’s it right there. There are some people that have all the right words but live their own agenda, not pure love. The incongruency has had my mind darting back and forth until it swallowed me in a depression because there is no way to justify it.

I found the baby, the baby Jesus. He gave his life, his agenda, his heavenly traditions, his casseroles, his shopping trips, his decorations, his family dinners, cookie making parties, EVERYTHING … for love. He left all the comforts of his life in heaven to come here for us.

Last Sunday, during an excellent sermon that spoke truth and grace in equal measures, I felt like I could hear Jesus tell me “Don’t celebrate Christmas! Celebrate ME! The rest is just fun stuff.”

Maybe this is just a rewording of “Jesus is the reason,” but this time  it came from a pure source. Love was there. True, free, altruistic love.

This morning I drove my kids to school for the last day before break. They were excited about parties and a special field trip and two weeks of free time. My  youngest has the flu and I have been pre-occupied. Then it occurred to me like a smack in the face: I never got gifts for their teachers and the bus driver! What would they think? They would think we don’t care about them! And then I remembered: “Celebrate ME! , Not Christmas.” The rest is all for fun. All for fun.

I watched a video the other day of a group singing about the manger scene. They showed hundreds of angels celebrating that baby. I got choked up and teary eyed. I think I found my Christmas spirit.

Angels We Have Heard on High – The Piano Guys, Pe…:

If I can find the baby, I’ll find the truth

The Christmas season arrived and brought a big spotlight to shine on my head. This year I’m struggling with some basic faith issues and I could have skimmed by and been fine if it weren’t for ol’ Saint Nick poking around soon expecting us all to have “Christmas spirit”.

Here’s the thing, I’ve had a pretty good, solid faith and belief about “Jesus is the reason…” for a long time. But this year, a couple of things happened that have put me in a spiritual depression. I understand depression, its been a part of me off and on since I was a teen. For me, depression is a black dog in the corner that stares at me while my mind starts an endless tornadic spiral that is never satisfied. The if/then statements start and end up back at the same place. Its a black hole of logic that is doomed to a never ending loop.
That’s where I’m at this season.

I have wracked my brain for the start of the vortex hoping to knock it off its rails. Two things are  different this season that I can point my finger at: 1. Financially, this season we are barely making it. That’s with begging and borrowing.

This is my last year of the masters program and because of the degree requirements and child care needs, I had to quit working 6 months ago. We have 9 more months until I can work again. I sub, but with squeezing it between school stuff, its about enough to pay the water bill and that’s it. So we worry about making our kids Christmas dreams come true and we also worry that we can just survive.

The other reason is complex. Some Christians we know, cared about and trusted, really threw us for a loop. They did some seriously unChristian things. It rattled us so deeply we had to separate ourselves and our family from that body of believers. My faith in God is good. I understand in my brain that God is still God no matter what men do.

After walling ourselves off for a time, we found we felt safe at a church an hour away that soothed my broken spirit when I was a single parent and newly divorced. I feel safe there. I can worship and let the salve of God’s truth cover me. …As long as I don’t look to closely, lest I might find the wolves in sheep’s clothes that hide in the temple.

So now we get back to December and I have this baggage this year. I want to wallow in the hay in the manger scene but I can’t find the stable. I want the comfort of traditions but the hollowness of traditions make me nauseous. I want to believe in the hope of Christmas miracles but I’m old enough to know you can’t depend of that for sustenance. I desperately need the peace that transcends all understanding but to have it I must make myself vulnerable.

Right now, more than anything, I need God to be the air I breath, but I’m too scared to breath.

I have panic attacks. Some are bad. A few years ago I had a really bad one. I was working in outside sales and the conundrum of making a living hit me hard. I ended up parking on a street in a neighborhood where the housing market busted. It was about 2 miles from our house. I was frozen. Any choice I made would have an outcome that was not good enough so I couldn’t make any choice. I couldn’t move. All I could do was cry while my mind raced. I cynically laughed that apparently I was forever doomed to live in my car at the end of a street in the middle of a field because I was paralyzed with fear. Finally, I knew I needed help and called Jeff.

Jeff has a way of locating and climbing into my self-made prisons and pulling me out that should earn him a spot as a Navy Seal. On the phone, he led me out of the neighborhood and got me home on the couch where I could safely sit, still frozen, mind you, until he could get home.  That was a bad panic attack.

This is an equivalent spiritual panic attack. As good as Jeff is, only God himself can do this rescue. I’m here in this self-made prison, hidden deep in a secret place, rocking and hugging myself, repeating the recurring clue, “Find the Christ child. He’s my only hope. Gotta find him.” Pray for me.