Posted in Living this Life

Dust bunnies and Christmas trees

It finally all caught up with me.

I mean, you can only hide the dust that is threatening to engulf your home for so long before it rears its ugly head and exposes you for who you really are.

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Because even though we all may prance around like Lucy from a Charlie Brown episode, pretending to have our stuff together, if we’re honest with ourselves, sometimes we feel a little bit more like the dust-embattled “Pig Pen” of the series. Literally.

Let me explain. Some people use Thanksgiving as their gauge for the appropriate time to break out the Christmas decorations. In my little world, it comes the day after Halloween. After a month of dealing with ghosts and ghouls haunting the aisles of every store I walk into, I can’t wait to throw up the tree and string the lights! (Thanksgiving looks extra good in the reflection of Christmas lights … we don’t skip Thanksgiving in these parts, we just “accessorize” it!”)

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So this year I jumped right in. Only, to my horror, I suddenly realized that this wasn’t going to be as much fun as I thought. It has been an exceptionally busy few months, and though I have maintained the “mandatory” cleaning of laundry, dishes, and the necessary loathsome toilets, I had blithely ignored the dust gathering in all the corners and surfaces of my home.

Until the lights came out and suddenly I could see it all. Everything ugly shone forth in shocking brilliance. And my dreams of glorious decorations stopped short in the depressing realization that I needed to put on my big girl pants and clean.

Truth is, I’ve been struggling with the thought of Christmas this year. I want all the joy, I want all the celebration, but sometimes it just feels like a lot of work, and I’m tired. It’s like I’m bursting at the seams (literally and emotionally) and then we take all these lights and decorations and songs and expectations and pile them on top of all this other stuff going on. And it starts to feel heavy and busy and cluttered.

Kind of like my house with decorations obscured by dust.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the beauty through the chaos, isn’t it?

Don’t blame Christmas. It’s holding out it’s arms with the promise of wonder and beauty … the opportunity to pause and remember. To put up impractical decorations just because they shine and make us smile and to give unnecessary gifts just because we love someone. To remember those important things that we build our lives on, but allow to get squeezed out in the business of life. The problem with Christmas lies in our capacity to receive it. We don’t know how to make space for it, so it just starts to feel like more work, more stuff, more than we have space for. We’re putting the beauty on top of the mess of our lives and it all dulls into incoherent clutter.

So I pulled out my dust rag, and I started to wipe. And as my home started to sparkle a little more, I felt the space around me work a surprising miracle. It was like the literal act of wiping away dust was starting to clear out the dusty corners of my heart. As the spaces around me cleared, I looked at my boxes of decorations and suddenly felt excitement grow over filling these spaces with lights and beauty.

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Are you feeling this with me? Is your soul feeling a bit cluttered these days? Do you have those spaces too – the ones that have been ignored too long and when you let your gaze linger, all you see are those stinking dust bunnies staring back at you? Has the calendar pressed in on you so that you no longer see the moments around you and only hear the ticking of the clock? Has the hurt that’s been done to you hardened your heart so all you hear when you call to God is your own voice echoing back? Are the necessary bills piling so high that every responsibility is just something else you can’t afford? There’s that diagnosis, that relationship, the drama that swirls around us and sucks the joy right out of our hearts… What do we do with all of that? Especially when Christmas comes along and tells us to put up the lights and rejoice and how do you do that when you can’t really find yourself in the middle of all the crazy?

It’s just easier to ignore it all and go on with the daily necessary requirements of life, isn’t it?

But then you hear the echo of that song and it feels a little different …

“Let every heart prepare Him room”… but if I’m honest, there really isn’t room most days.

Maybe what we need this Christmas is a different perspective. Maybe instead of trying to lay baby Jesus in His manger on top of all the other things in our lives, we could try inviting Him into that messy place? Maybe we could hold open our hands and simply ask Him to hear the cry of our hearts.

We all want to move a little slower so we can take it all in, but until we can, let’s “prepare Him room”. Maybe we can dust out the corners of the heart, release some resentment, soften some anger, forgive a hurt – and let Jesus in. Recently I found myself needing to utter a simple, “I’m sorry” to the God of the Universe who I had unwittingly shut out of my heart. Hurts in various form had caused me to want to protect myself and those I love and so I let myself grow hard – and God can’t be heard when the walls of our heart turn to rock.

Maybe this Christmas season, we can string the lights and remember the Light who scatters our darkness. (John 1:5)

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To hear His precious promises – and truly believe them!

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair. – Isaiah 61

Maybe with each twinkling light we see, we can take a deep breath and see the face of Christ – “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

Oh how my soul needs to hear that truth! Pig Pen and I have some work to do around here! But we’ll have the Christmas music blasting while we do it…

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