In which I leave and come back

So this blogging thing…it didn’t really stick. It’s been almost two months since I posted! Yet here I am, trying again. And maybe it’s appropriate, because so often this following Jesus thing? this living-under-grace thing? it doesn’t stick. Jesus is still here, of course, and grace is still here, but I’m somewhere else, doing my own thing.

It’s not an intentional leaving. It’s not a physical leaving at all, but more a forgetting, which is a whole different sort of leaving… an emotional and spiritual distancing. I hate that I let myself become distant. His grace is precious to me! It’s my life-blood, and it’s my joy. Even so, every now and then I look up and realize some part of me has forgotten that I’m a child of God, that I am loved and accepted unconditionally. At those times, discontent and fear replace gratitude and joy. It ain’t pretty….

And so, time and again I must come back and place myself at his mercy. And–glory be–his endless river of grace pours over me, refreshing and renewing, and (this is the most amazing part) he calls me his own.

Thanks be to God.

In which I’ll never be ready for Christmas

This past week as I’ve been out doing errands, several people have asked me the same question: Are you ready for Christmas? I know they mean shopping and baking and what-not, but I can’t help thinking, is anyone ever really ready for Christ to arrive in their world?

And yet, ready or not, Christmas comes. Jesus comes. And if I offer the slightest opening — hey Jesus, you can have that stinky corner in the barn — if even that, he comes in and makes himself at home. And if I open the door a little wider…well, he’s likely to turn my life upside down. It’s hard to be ready for that.

I need it, though. Every year. Every day, even. And maybe it’s good that Christmas is a ready-or-not thing, so that despite my unreadiness — despite my hesitations and doubts and fears — if I crack open my heart to receive the Christ child, Christmas happens, and I’m never the same again.

In which my life is a long and shabby Christmas letter

I love getting those traditional recap-of-our-family’s-year letters from friends at Christmas. I really do. I want to be clear on that, because I’m now going to totally diss them.

Most of those letters are lies.

Oh, I believe the stuff they say really happened. But I don’t believe it’s the whole story. Maybe people think I don’t want to hear the rest of it, but I do.

I have one relative who sends refreshingly honest letters. She just puts it all out there. Like, kid A really messed things up this time, but man, I love him so much. Or, from someone you wouldn’t really expect to be okay with her kid being gay, my son and his boyfriend found a great new apartment…. There’s no hiding, no only showing what she thinks will impress others.

Ah, there it is…impress others. Is that why so many letters go wrong? Are people trying to impress me with how great their kids are turning out, how great a parent they clearly must be? Probably not. They’re just proud of them, that’s all…I get that. But it’s so much more intimate, so much more relationship-focused, to pour it all out together. (Isn’t that why we send letters? To nurture our long-distance relationships?) When you trust me enough to share the less-than-impressive stuff, it means you know I love you and your kids, no matter what. It means you know I care, you know I want the whole story, and you know I’ll understand and accept that whole story.

Which brings me to this: I think living as a Jesus-follower can be a little like that—like letting our lives tell the whole story, being honest about our faith and our doubts, our good days and our bad, our moments of grace and our moments of judgment. Because how we present ourselves to God is a little like writing a Christmas letter. And since I know he loves me, since I know he wants my whole story, I can be honest. I can trust him with the good, the bad, and the ugly, pouring it all out at Jesus’ feet.

He sees that mess of a story on the ground before him, and despite it – or because of it – he bends down and kisses the top of my head. He says, I love you, too.