It’s officially Christmas time.
How do I know this? Because I bought a box of Christmas Crunch by Cap’n Crunch. You know, with those little Christmas tree shaped crunch-berries in it? And let me tell you, it was gone within 48 hours. And I am not ashamed of it.
I never appreciated the story of Mary and Martha until recently…
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village.
And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.
40 But Martha was distracted with much serving.
And she went up to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”
41 But the Lord answered her,“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,
42 but one thing is necessary.
Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
In my own pride I always thought that I had deciphered all that that text of the Bible had to offer. Jesus is the most important thing. Right, got it. Let’s move on.
It wasn’t until recently, at the start of Advent, that this story began to take on a whole new life for me, as only the Bible can do, even when you have read a passage dozens of times.
I’ve been struggling lately. I’m in the trenches of having three babies now. It sort of feels like that grace period that moms seem to get when they first bring a new baby home is over. And while I am actually enjoying very much that I have a newborn, I have been hating something else.
The current situation of my house. It looks like a bomb went off. All. The. Time.
Let me be honest in saying that it isn’t like my house has it all together the rest of the year. Even when there wasn’t a pregnant belly to lug around or a newborn to tend to, my house could still look like war torn streets of the apocalypse by the end of the day.
I am all about being real. I am all about welcoming anyone into my home, perhaps with the qualifying statement of, “you’re welcome to come in, buuut just so you know my house is messy,” at first but I ultimately have no shame. Because it is what it is.
Lately though I have crossed over from being confident in my home to being ashamed of it. I feel like no matter what I do, no matter how much time during my day gets committed to doing SOME sort of cleaning, it simply doesn’t matter. It will still look roughly the same tomorrow.
If I get the bathrooms get scrubbed, I can only see that the wood floors in the living room need desperately to be mopped because there are dried splatters of juice everywhere. If I get three loads of laundry washed, dried and folded, I can only see that the dishes in my kitchen sink are piled like a mountain.
It’s taken over my life. Which is especially sad considering that something I worry and fret over so much never seems to get any better no matter what I do. It’s a perpetual cycle.
Nothing feels good enough.
Does it ever, really?
And it always seems to ramp up around Christmas, right? When you have the most stuff to do, when you have things you want to sit back and enjoy, that’s when ish hits the proverbial fan. Or maybe we just don’t notice it as often until the calendar page flips to December. Maybe the pressure doesn’t get to us any other time like it does during the holiday season.
That’s when our eyes pop out of our heads over the angst of believing nothing is the way that it should be. This is supposed to be a special time of year. Somehow we think that means that our kids are going to magically remember to always put their shoes away and not make a mess of the dining room table by littering it with strips of cut paper and macaroni noodles from lunch.
Christmas is supposed to be different. It’s supposed to be “just so.”
Does Christ really care about our messy homes? Does Christ really care that the calendar says that it’s December?
We bought our Christmas tree last weekend. It was a great time for all of us. Although I would have chosen a tree about a foot taller and three feet wider, we ultimately made a more sensible choice. Having a Christmas tree that looks like it ate other Christmas trees sounds fun and even seems that way at first. Until about December 26th.
After a month of having a giant Christmas tree occupying a vast space in my living room, about when the needles start turning brown, that’s when I start losing my mind. Normally I crack first and start taking the tree down because I just can’t take it anymore.
We brought our tree home. Our beautiful tree. Such a picturesque scene, a family in their mini van driving down the road with the perfect tree strapped to the roof. Kids piling out of the car and into the house where we could enjoy hot chocolate together.
All of those lovely images marred by how we promptly had to spend about 30 minutes cleaning up/rearranging everything to even get the tree into our living room.
Because our house is simply that chaotic right now. The tree isn’t decorated yet because we have had holiday activities and obligations pretty much every evening since then. So it sits (stands?) naked in my living room.
It’ll get decorated when we find the urge to ruffle through the attic to find the decorations. How is that the box with Christmas decorations always seems to be in the furthest corner of the attic and buried under the most stuff? Even though it was only put away in, like, July?
It didn’t seem like a page for the memory books. Beleaguered parents who are tired. Who are tired of feeling like they are at the bottom of the heap with day to day life. Just trying to keep it together. Our beautiful tree, surrounded by a sea of clutter.
Isn’t this our Christ?
Who comes to shine the light in our cluttered hearts and declare that it matters not? That those who would receive Him still are all that He desires.
This is advent, people.
The beautiful tree, shining in a house cluttered with a sea of funk. This is where the tree belongs. A savior, born to a world full of broken, helpless people. This is where the savior belongs. Born to humble parents, in a small, unassuming town in a shabby barn. From tiny, unlikely niches, He would light the way.
I cannot stress the following statement enough: Christ did not come for the people who “have it all together.”
If you told me right now that Christ would be standing at my door in 30 minutes, I would guffaw and then promptly melt down because I’m not showered, the kids aren’t dressed, the house is filthy and I would be wondering why He would want to even come to a place like this anyway?
My old farm house with a rusty tin roof and worn siding? I would be a Martha, I would be worried that my home wasn’t ready. And I would be wondering what, if anything, He would want with me? I would fret, I’m sad to say. Even though I know I shouldn’t, I would.
Christ came for me. For all people. For the people who were willing to fling open their doors and the door to their heart and receive Him. And especially for those who make precursory statements such as, “welcome. It’s very messy in here, but you’re welcome to all that I have.”
He delights when you admit that it’s messy, and still yield to Him so that He can show you a better way. To show us that His promises will long outlast the clutter in our home, the pain in our hearts. He delights when instead of busying ourselves with things that don’t matter, we find time to sit at His feet.
This is why, even though this is a special time of year from a celebratory standpoint, we should not be caught up in making everything just so. Put that Advent Wreath in your messy home. Hang those lights on the front of your old, rickety house. Put that tree in the one corner of your living room that isn’t cluttered. Turn off all of the lights and stare at it. Don’t look around, look only at it.
In much the same way, welcome Christ into your messy heart. Every. Day. Fling open its doors and announce that its messy in here, and acknowledge that it’s not much but that He is most welcome here. Receive Him.
Turn off all of the lights to everything else, and sit at the feet at the one who lights the way.