As I drove home tonight, I had a pretty intense conversation with God. I shared some fears and insecurities and then listened for an answer. I'm so high stress right now (finals week at university, Christmas, emergencies/alerts at university, general job stress, holiday shoppers…) that I know I don't take enough time to listen.
I happen to have a copy of a post I wrote for Audacious last December open on my desktop. As I re-read it I realized it is still true for me. As I have been reminded over the years, sometimes a good lesson takes awhile to learn and for it to really sink in, you need to hear it again. And again.
I needed to hear it again. Maybe you do too.
Christmas caroling around the community with my church family has become one of my most cherished Christmas traditions. I love listening to and singing Christmas music all year round. One of the many perks of living alone is that there is no one to complain when I start the Christmas music in July. But really, nothing quite beats walking around in the freezing cold, in hats and scarves and gloves, singing "Joy to the World." Nothing.
However, over the years, my work schedule has gotten so busy that I am usually unable to make it to our Christmas caroling night. This year a close friend begged me to come. Begged. Thanks to a sympathetic supervisor and a slow day at work, I was able to arrange some things so I could finally attend. Easy peasy.
Ha. Life never is, is it?
Even though I was so excited that I was finally able to participate in the one event I have missed over the years, I left work late, leaving what felt like 100 things unfinished. I texted my friend before I left work. "Do not leave without me. I will cry if you do." I drove as fast as the speed limit would let me, still getting to the church almost 10 minutes late. Almost as soon as I stepped foot in the church, we were off to our first stop.
It wasn't until we were on our second or third song that I realized I wasn't enjoying myself. I had been stressing out and running high on adrenaline for the last couple of hours. I was finally able to spend time with my church family and all I felt was stress. I could feel the frustration building up inside my heart. I was stressing about work things. Had I remembered to tell my supervisor…? I was stressing about the cold and the snow. I was stressing about…well, pretty much everything.
And then I heard it. Those beautiful words of the hymn:
Silent night. Holy night. All is calm. All is bright. Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child. Holy Infant, so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peace.
One second, I was singing. And the next? Well, the next I stood there with tears falling down my face. All is calm? Hardly. Heavenly peace? Where can I get some of that? Oh Lord, I prayed, I am so far from calm at this moment. So far from the peace that you promise. Please calm my heart. Grant me peace.
And as we sang the rest of that song, it felt like I was hearing for the very first time that Jesus came to bring us peace and grace. That in our fear and trembling, the angels were bringing good news of a Savior. That this thing we celebrate every December 25th, Jesus putting skin on and stepping into our world, isn't just for children.It's for me.
Even on the stressful, messy days? Yes. Even then. And guess what? It's for you too!
Even on your messy days? Yes. Even then. Especially then.
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!