The culture that we live in would lead us to believe that this is a season of perfection. We need to find the perfect gift to give someone. And make the perfect memories for our kids. We need to have the perfect picture to go on the card that we send out to all our friends and families. And interesting, perfectly punctuated things to say in the Christmas letter. Then we need to cook the perfect meal. And have the perfect house. And the perfect smile plastered on our faces all month long. And on and on and on.
And in the midst of that, this is also the season when so many hurt the most for so many reasons. Many of us, myself included, still sting at the loss of people we love and see no longer. We ache because of broken relationships, lost friendships, imperfect pasts & stories, and again, the list goes on and on. So, why is it that we feel the need to pretend that everything is perfect?
Our faith tells us that there is very little that ever was perfect...and that much of this world never can be. And that God still called it GOOD! In fact, the only perfect person to have ever walked the earth was Jesus. He was impossibly, uniquely perfect. And the rest of the world? The rest of us? Not so much. And still God loved us SO much. Loves us so much.
The thing is, though, it's actually the imperfection that always makes my heart sing. It's the kid who forgets their line in the Christmas pageant, and instead says something else adorable. It's the laughter when someone tells that old family story one more time. It's the chip in the plate that you still use from your grandmother because it reminds you of her and of being a kid. It's the silliness that ensues when kids get to be kids. And it's two people sitting in a pew telling stories three days before Christmas because one of them has lost a friend - the timing is terrible, and the laughter is good.
The thing that's magic about Christmas is that Jesus doesn't come to a perfect world. And he doesn't tell a perfect story. The animals were smelly. The shepherds were dirty. There was no room in the inn. And when the angels appeared, folks weren't excited - they were terrified. And still, in the midst of all that comes the most perfectly fragile, impossible story - the story of our redemption. The story of love incarnate. Of a God who so loved the world that there was no price to high to save us.
For me, this Christmas is about finding the hope that breaks in to what isn't perfect. The peace that breaks in to what is chaotic. The moments of holiness that seem impossible and yet make such a difference. I pray that this surprising Christ child will be born in your life, too. That even in the midst of anxiety - and the pressure to be perfect - he might remind you that it is even in your imperfection that you are saved. And that God loves you just as you are. So take the funny picture. Don't worry about the burned cookies. And find this hope born anew in you in wildly imperfect ways. Even then, if you wrap those moments in love, God will call it good.