To the Fanciest Wrappers, the Festive-est Hall Deckers, and the Bargainest Shoppers- how are you? Are you crazy yet, or just teetering on the edge of crazy? It’s easy to get a little crazy this time of year because Expectations Outweigh Ability. Crazy expectations and crazy striving make for crazy feelings. This is the Advent season, so before you lose your ugly on somebody, consider the following:
Crazy originates out of fear- fear of the unknown, fear of disappointing people, fear of insufficiency, fear of rejection, fear of being controlled and fear of failure.
This advent season, I’ve been trying to put myself in the shoes of the original Christmas characters. What was it like to be Zechariah- an old priest unable to have a child. What was it like to be Mary- a pregnant unwed woman carrying the Savior of the World? Or Joseph- pledged to a woman who is carrying a son that is not his and responsible for keeping them safe? What was it like to be the Shepherds- the lowest class of citizen lonely on a hill?
The characters in the original Christmas story felt the same feelings we feel. They knew what it felt like to be judged unworthy by the people around them. They knew the shame of inadequacy, and the sting of unanswered prayers. Like us, the people of Christmas knew loneliness and rejection and feeling out of the loop, on the outside, and not good enough to be in the “in crowd.” Lonely, sleepless nights spent worrying “why me,” and “what next,” were as common then as now.
But one message runs through the Christmas story like a river through a dry dessert, and that is “fear not.”
I’ve found that peace is not fear’s anecdote. No, love is. Love is fear’s opposite. Love is fear’s answer. So when strange or sad things happen to you like being infertile, ostracized, put-upon, misjudged, misunderstood- be sure to listen closely for God’s eternal message… “Don’t Be afraid.” When you read these words or hear them in your own heart, it’s God’s love message to you. He is saying, “You can’t meet everyone’s expectations, or even your own. But don’t be afraid, don’t be crazy, I love you.”
We can read the story of each character in the Christmas story with joy because we know how it ends. But they didn’t know how it ended. They had to go through the struggle of walking God’s path one step at a time until God fulfilled all of His promises to them. They had to leave the comforts of home. They had to travel to a far-off land without guarantee of provision. They had to get woken up in the middle of the night with God’s next direction. They had to hear from angels in order to know what to do next.
The message is the same today- Don’t be afraid.
Your prayers have been heard, you’ve found favor with God, there is good news- and it’s for everyone.
Just keep living your life, working your program, and sharing your stuff,
Don’t be afraid.