As we come into this season, which happens to be a season of celebration in many cultures, I do not have a problem saying simply "Happy Holidays" or in Hebrew, "Chag Sameach!", I do not feel that I am slighting Yeshua in doing so, but simply including anyone who may be outside Him! He is an all encompassing being, and He longs to include all mankind in His embrace eventually! Not that He encompasses everything, necessarily, but He came to redeem all who seek redemption! (From what it is exactly that we may need redeeming, well, that seems to be the question that most neglect... but that is another topic altogether).
Personally, for me, I find that as I approach this season I am stricken with many conflicting emotions. There is of course a gratitude for the One who is - to me, truly - the "Reason for the season"! There is a deep comfort in knowing Him, and living in His incomparable grace! There is a Joy in having been released from many of the burdens, strongholds and difficulties that defined my earlier years, a blessed relief from the tyranny of chronic depression! And all of those things are only possible because of the advent of this singular Being who was at once God and man! This concept seems to be a contradiction to the Hebrew perspective, but is actually only one of its many ironies and mysteries!
Still, along with those feelings of relief and gratitude, there is a shadow that challenges the Joy, constantly threatening to overwhelm it, to douse its light! There is a wistful longing for Peace on Earth and Goodwill among mankind, to be sure! Which is admittedly a difficult hope to maintain among the daily reports of violence and strife! There is also an intense longing for deeperpersonal Peace which seems somehow more elusive at this time of year. I think because there is also a heightened awareness of our individual needs for some reason, which means that there is also a longing for deeper relationships - Relationships that are more real and genuine and satisfying, that exude comfort and intimacy and a more meaningful quality of caring - with God and with His creation, especially with those nearest. The absence of, or even the diminishing of which creates a great inward loneliness this time of year.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I strive to "live real", to be sure that there is no false advertising, that "what you see is what you get". But even with intense efforts I find that there are areas about me which still surprise me! Things I assumed early on, that simply are not true! I never saw myself as an "empty nester", for example. I earnestly expected to take it with grace! I mean, I was sort of dubious about the whole parenting gig anyway. I thought that there was a better than even chance I wouldn't get in so deep. That I would not invest more than was wise! What a joke! I am in hook, line and sinker, and my sinker weighs a lot more than I thought!
Seriously! I am in mourning already and the "nest" is far from "empty"! The mere anticipationof it becoming emptyhas thrown me under the emotional bus! This simply can not be allowed to continue! I do not want to sell the now, to any grim shadowy possibilities, I do not want to pine away the present while imagining any any future threats! I must not allow a loneliness of what may be to eclipse the joy of whatis! Though, admittedly, what "is", is not what I anticipated nor hoped for, exactly.
I had hoped to be at a different place, personally, financially, before they began the departure from the safety of the nest. I had hoped to be able to extend a safety net below them first, so that it did not seem so terrifying (to me - they seem fine with the soaring bit! lol)! I had hoped to be into other pursuits so that it did not feel quite so forlorn being the one left "behind"! I was hoping for a bit of soaring of my own! And, alas, I am not experiencing that, exactly.
Also, I had hoped that they would land close to where we are, when they first "came down". The "tallies" are far from final, but it really doesn't look like they gleaned any of our values, dreams or leanings. It seems as though each one is intent on reinventing the wheel rather than ride in what we have labored to build! But perhaps, again, it is too soon to tell.
I think this is one of those dreaded times known as transition! I HATE that place! When I succeed at finding grace for Transition I will know that I am finally spiritually mature! Transition - like the final phase of child-birth (that it is named for) - is always excruciatingly painful! It always takes way more patience than seems reasonable! It is always unpredictable and nerve wracking! And finding the courage to be grateful in the middle of it is among life's greater challenges! But even in transition His grace is Sufficient! Remembering that, however, is much easier said than done.
So I have become aware of a great need. I must force myself to realize, as another season is upon us, that I must weed some things from my heart and thought life at this season. Along with some doctrinal error and heathen traditions there is also usually some emotional baggage from holidays past, like so many "Dickenesque - Ghosts of Christmas Past", that try to weigh down our sled! Emotional things that happened, which now cast shadows, or steal joy, or wreak havoc on the emotions that surround this time. Like barnacles that slow the progression of ships, so we collect emotional barnacles from year to year. Weights, and burdens and painful memories of hurtful things, wrong doings or rejection, that impede our progress and threaten to steal our joy!
We already come into this season with some "pre-packaged" challenges. How can we ever live up to the Currier and Ives version of the pre-depression era "American Dream" - for example? We already have a series of unrealistic expectations, romantic ideas about how we should feel, and how others should act toward us, which are usually out of reach, that set us up for a down! When the goals we set, even subconsciously, are out of reach, how can we feel anything but great disappointment. And often we allow that disappointment to steal the very real joys that are available!
So it is time to take inventory. As we get out the seasonal decorations of our time worn beloved traditions, not only should we examine the whys behind them, but we need to examine our motives, and our expectations as well. We should become aware of the weights that may be dragging us away from our joy and disturbing our peace! We should be proactive about dealing with them. We may need to remove some barnacles! We may need to forgive some things, we may need to rethink some things, we may need to lower our expectations to the realm of reality. We may need to do some warfare against the encroaching greed and jealousy and ungratefulness that tend to fuel feelings of negativity at this time of year.
As we blow the dust off our decorations, let us also blow the dust of fleshly desires and expectations off our hearts, let us free our thoughts of the grumbling-gimmees and the "woe-is-me's" and let us be sure to cultivate a heart of thankful praise to the God who is worthy! Situations and circumstances are always subject to change, whether we want change or not. But our consistency comes from the LORD! Our stability and safety are hidden within HIM. HE is our HOPE!
That is why these two pieces of music have become my holiday mantra. Though written in minor keys, not cheery bouncy fun tunes, they cry out for hope from the depths of my soul! They call for the ONE who is Hope, they celebrate His advent better than any other. One is the Israeli National Anthem, which is nothing but a call for Messiah, the Sar Shalom, and the Peace He will bring them, and the other is a carol that I am convinced came from it - that also calls for His Advent of Peace! I share them here in hope against hope that in this Holiday season, may all men find HIM, and come to rest in His Shalom! In that wish I sincerely wish everyone - Chag Sameach! Happiest of Holidays!
Kol-od ba-le-vav, p'nima
Ne-fesh Y'hu-di ho-mi-ya
Ay-in l'-Tzi-yon tzo-fi-ya
Od lo av-da tik-va-te-nu,
Ha tik-vah bat shnot al-pa-yim
Li-yot am Chof-shi b'-ar-tze-nu,
Er-etz Tzi-yon Y'-ru-sha-lai-yim!
Li-yot am Chof-shi b'-ar-tze-nu,
Er-etz Tzi-yon Y'-ru-sha-lai-yim!
O Come, O Come Emmanuel!
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
(Refrain) Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, O come, Thou Lord of Might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times didst give the law,
In cloud, and majesty, and awe. Refrain
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave. Refrain
O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight. Refrain
O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery. Refrain
O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
And order all things, far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And cause us in her ways to go. Refrain
O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of peace. Refrain
Indeed, Come Quickly, Lord Yeshua! ~ Amen!