Tears gathered with the sweat that had accumulated from our hot and dusty moto ride across town to the Pizza Company. It was Christmas Day—my first in Cambodia. And I was not happy. My husband sat next to me as we waited for a table to open up.
“This is one of those culture shock moments, right?” he said. My, what made you think a thing like that? Of course it is! It’s not supposed to be hot for Christmas. It’s just not. Christmas means hot apple cider, snow, fireplaces, and snuggling up under a blanket. It most certainly does not mean 100-degree weather. I was having the ultimate breakdown in a restaurant filled with curious people.
I didn’t realize until that moment, how much I had wrapped myself around this ideal of “the Christmas environment.” Having lived in Mongolia, I at least had the cold weather. It took me a few years to come up with our own traditions in a tropical country, but it’s something I still struggle with. Listening to “Let it Snow!” while I am wearing a tank top and shorts is just not the same.
As we headed home on our home assignment last year, I was excited about spending Christmas at home in Iowa. Finally, after five years, I would have that “ideal” Christmas once again.
That all changed on Christmas Eve when our three-week old son came down with bacterial meningitis. We rushed to a city an hour and a half away, and we desperately prayed for our son’s life to be spared. Suddenly, nothing else mattered. Not the weather. Not the decorations. Not the special Christmas Eve candle-lit service. All that we could think about was our son. As I held him on Christmas morning, tears once again rolled down my face–my son was alive and in my arms. We would have more trials in the months ahead, but at the moment, he was resting calmly.
Think of the Child who came so many years ago, to burst through our selfishness, to come meet us where we are. The shepherds were astonished at the great host of angels who came to declare the good news. Simple shepherds who were just going about their normal, dirty work. They rushed to the Child because nothing else mattered.
When we encounter the Christ Child, there is nothing else to do but to let go of what we feel we are “missing out on” and embrace Him fully. Like the shepherds, we can run with anticipation towards Him. He is the Creator made flesh and He came to dwell among us–to speak into this mundane, often dirty work that we do and make it sacred.
How about you? Are you having a hard time letting go of what you are missing out on? How is Christ meeting you where you are this Christmas season?