This issue of not having enough room for Jesus started early.
He wasn't even born yet and there was no room for Him. It was too crowded in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph could not find a place to stay, even though she was clearly a woman in labor. (Where were the gentlemen, making room for this woman swollen and aching with child?) And so the little family was squeezed out of the town to the outskirts, the stables. Funny that the only ones glad to make room for Jesus were the animals.
Let every heart prepare Him room, the song goes.
Room for what, I ask myself afresh this year. And how do I make room for Him? How do I prepare my life, my heart, my budget, and my calendar for His coming? All over again, He is about to arrive and we are to prepare Him room.
I look around, and this year more than any other, I see Him squeezed out, to the outskirts, if that. We know in our minds that the celebration of His birth is coming. Yet our preparations are not generally about that. Oh yes, there are preparations. Plenty of them. But much of our focus demands we push Him aside in so many ways.
And friends, let's be honest. December is threatening for us women. Have you had an emotional breakdown yet? Because everyone else seems to have. I'm teetering on the edge; it could go downhill quickly any day now for me. But many of my friends have shared episodes of crying, feeling overwhelmed, joyless, and finding no room for personal sanity, much less Jesus this past week. It is what we allow in December.
I allow it. And I have allowed it in the past. December has ruined me a few times. Stolen my joy and ripped up my peace. And I signed up for all of it. Well, I'm realizing aging has a particular refining ability. You stop caring about what other people think long enough to protect your heart and your family.
To be frank, for the past 48 hours, God has impressed upon me this burden, in a good way, to work out this problem of making room for Jesus with you. It's one of those times where I feel like if I didn't write about it, I might somehow combust. It's a conversation in a few parts, in my head. And Part 1 is about making room for Him in our schedules.
I can't tell you which things, exactly, mean saying "yes" to making room in your schedule for Jesus this season. I don't know if He's calling you to some time with Him privately, or as a family in church, or with your children each morning for walking through an advent calendar. It is different for all of us. I can tell you that for me, for my family right now, doing a daily advent is not appropriate. I just know in my heart it is not what we need.
But I can pretty confidently say this. Based on my sheer discomfort witnessing my friends drop like flies into the abyss of Christmas Crash and Burn this week, I urge you to simplify, dear friends. Look at your calendar and cross off all but the very essentials. Don't be afraid to say "no" to protect your own sanity or that of your family even if there is a cost. If your friend or family member is upset that you needed to say "no" to his or her event, then that tells you something. He or she does not understand each person's call to prepare Him room.
Our family will not be on it's usual schedule for attending swim team workouts.
We are not promising to visit every relative for Christmas.
We are not spending our time shopping - not even half as much as years past.
My 101 Wednesday Bible Study is on break until the second week in January.
I'm not even picking up my phone. Try to call me and you'll find out it's true.
These are all incredibly practical decisions I've made because I don't have the extra time, and I refuse to take it from something else more important. I'm 37. I've have my emotional breakdowns for enough Decembers. And so I refuse.
Maybe you can make these kinds of choices more easily than I can, and so I may sound sort of aggressive about all this. Well, if so, that's great for you. I personally feel like it's a constant fight to keep our schedule from filling up with a lot of good things that comprehensively equal stress, hurried living, and one grouchy mama. This is where the rubber meets the road, friends. How we get Christmas down through our crowded minds, into our hearts, and out into our day to day living this December takes some grit.
I'm going to end the posts in this series with a prayer. Feel free to pray with me. It's my prayer from my heart. So it may not resonate with you. If not, maybe you could take a moment and whisper your own, in your own words.
Jesus, I can see how this theme of the world having no room for you began on day one. It puts a fear in me, because I know deep down I have the same nature. I've pushed you to the margins of my life so many times and I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I've made December about other things in the past, and my crowded heart left you in the outskirts. But this year, Lord, I invite you in. Please guide me, giving me wisdom and discernment in my everyday choices so that I make room for you. Give me the courage to say "no" when necessary, and "Yes, there's room," when you knock on my door. Lord, help me to put the celebration of your birth first in my heart and in my family. And please let me be a light in this crowded world; let me show my loved ones who the Price of Peace really is by my personal peace this season. We need you, Lord. Move in our hearts and in our homes. In Jesus name, Amen.
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