Christmas Stories: Day 18
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Me, I’ll Bounce Right Back
I was rifling through girls’ winter coats when the song began to play. I didn’t recognize it right away, but it had a familiar melody and before I knew it, I wanted to sit right down, right where I was, and cry my ever-loving eyes out.
Hey, maybe I’ll dye my hair
maybe I’ll move somewhere
It went on and I stood there, feeling sad and wanting to cry and wondering why I was feeling so sad all of a sudden and looking around for a store clerk to see if maybe they could go find the ‘Happy Bouncy Mariah Carey Christmas Music’ setting on Muzak before I really embarrassed myself in the middle of the puffy coats and base layers.
Me, I’ll be just fine and dandy
Lord, it’s like a hard candy Christmas
I’m barely getting through tomorrow
but still I won’t let sorrow bring me way down
I texted my sister that Dolly was about to make me lose it in broad daylight, and I knew she would understand – she knows the song, even sang it at her church one year. I remember the year she sang it. I couldn’t relate. It was such a happy year, there had been so much life, even in the midst of great pain. I remember sympathizing – from afar – with anyone who might feel like it’s a hard candy Christmas and then going on my merry way.
But this year? This year I’m right up there in the middle of it.
It’s been a hard year, and I don’t feel like the wise man bringing gifts to the newborn King. I feel like the stinky shepherd jolted awake from sleep and told to go and see this miracle, this joyful thing, and all I can think about is how filthy my clothes are, how I need to wash my hair and brush my teeth and put on some deodorant first. How I can’t possibly rejoice and be excited about the Messiah when I’m such a tired mess.
But isn’t the fact that Jesus’ first earthly throne was a manger, in a stall, with livestock, enough to let us know that He’s not afraid of our filth and He will always receive us in our mess? And why do I keep forgetting that?
So what do we do when Advent opens and we’re supposed to humbly hush and pause and still and begin the expecting and instead I’m cranky and impatient and waking up ready for tomorrow because I blew through this morning’s new mercies yesterday?
I look at Mary, heavy with the Christ child, heavy with expectancy, and that’s the expectation for us during Advent: be heavy with the expectancy of His coming. Heavy with hope. Instead I’m heavy with fatigue, heavy with dread, with wondering if life will ever be any better than this – if I will ever be any better than this. Heavy with approaching yet another holiday season with plenty of ducks that I have once again failed to get into a row.
I abandoned my search for girls’ winter coats and fled the scene as quickly as possible. After all, there’s no crying in sporting goods. I came home and busied myself with cleaning and organizing, trying to keep that blasted song out of my head, trying not to feel the ache of my need for grace.
And there’s another thing I so often forget: that in the middle of our fumbling around, trying to do anything we can to take our minds off of our need for grace, Jesus shows up.
A text came in from my sister: “Check your porch.”
I don’t know where she found them, or how she found the time in her busy day to stop what she was doing and drop some hope on her sister’s porch, but that’s precisely what she did. Jesus used her to whisper through my ache that He will always come for me. That there is always hope because He will always show up.
Can we all just let that sink in for a minute?
He will never stop showing up.
And still, He won’t let sorrow bring me way down.
Today’s story is by Andrea Alford.
Andrea serves on the worship team at FN and has a lovely daughter, Livi. You can find more of her writing on her blog, Unsearchable Things.