Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love. (Hamilton Wright Mabie)
As I sit here listening to needles fall from my Spruce, I am not sure if our tree will survive until tomorrow. It’s one of those minor stressors that come about because we bring something that’s alive from the outdoors into an environment where it is not designed to thrive. The tradition seems silly at times, but it’s one of my favorite parts of Christmas.
Tonight and tomorrow, many of us head into environments where, like my tree, we are in survival mode. There are so many reasons why it might be the case. Thriving is not even on the agenda. We are just going to “make it through.”
From the thousands of Christmas movies, books, and shows, we know in our heads that “Christmas cannot be bought from a store. Christmas is just a little bit more.” (The Grinch) But our actions speak otherwise. We rush around buying gifts and would never be caught dead without one in hand for those on our list. Part of the survival of Christmas. Get a gift. Bring a gift.
I don’t really want to just survive until Tuesday. My thoughts swirl as I think about how to “make that happen, keep my needles from falling off.” And then my heart is quieted. It’s not the outer world: other people, the food, the dying Spruce, the gifts, and even the Steelers game that are going to do it for me. It’s a gentle reminder from my friend Annie that she has hammered into my head for the past ten years (obviously I am a slow learner): We don’t just HAVE gifts to offer. We ARE the gifts.
As you go into today, tonight and tomorrow, be encouraged. You ARE the gift for those who spend any moments of precious time with you. Open yourself up. Unwrap yourself. Let others in. Help them to know you. At the same time, view others as the gifts that they ARE. Seek to unwrap their hearts. Get to know them. It’s scary and vulnerable and you might just be hurt and rejected, but you will be giving the best gift of all: YOU.
I long for one thing in this life and just perhaps you do too (whether you know it or not): being fully-known and fully-loved. I am so thankful that Jesus paved the way for us and showed us how this works. He opened His heart fully for us, taking a huge chance on being vulnerable and rejected, giving Himself without pause. He knew beyond a doubt that He IS the best gift for us and that you and I ARE the greatest presents He could ever receive. All of the scary rejection paled in comparison to the JOY that this union of hearts would bring. We were worth the risk.
I don’t know what’s going to happen today, tonight, or tomorrow when you risk your hearts for the chance of knowing and being known, loving and being loved. I can’t promise you that it might not end up painful. I can’t promise you that you might not be rejected. But I can promise that your heart will be more open, and in turn, more healed. And you might just be a little closer to getting what you really want this Christmas!
(Check out this fun video – What If We Saw Everything as a Gift?)