“Christmas, in my opinion, gets short shrift. For some reason, Christians have made the death, atonement, and resurrection of the Easter season the most important focus of theology and worship. We seem to have forgotten the mystery and wonder of Jesus’s mere existence and life on earth. The concept of the Incarnation—God coming to ‘dwell among us’ as flesh and blood—is so fanciful and so reckless, it deserves more attention.”
Sybil MacBeth, The Season of the Nativity
Sometimes I forget that Jesus came as a child. He was not born talking and challenging the status quo. He was born in blood and with tears to a very young woman in a place where animals lived.
There are hints though, little whispers of the precocious child that Jesus was. I love that story of Him in the temple at the age of twelve, confounding His elders. I wonder if they called Him an old soul (the way they do me).
Sometimes I forget that Jesus knows what it is like not to be seen.
His parents went home and forgot Him. They forgot Jesus.
I read the words at the top of this post and had to stop to read them again. I had never before considered that those years between Jesus’ birth and His first miracle are years where He was gaining empathy. He just was. It was enough.
Isaiah, writing many years before the first Advent wrote that there was: “no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”
I’ll bet Jesus felt overlooked. He is in this with me.
My therapist and I seem to always return to this point. “No one sees me.” I say. On bright days, I feel like I might be peeping over a hedge, just the top of my head, or my big, green eyes, visible to those passing by. On dark days, I feel like the invisible man, walking through the world, trying to make contact, unable to wave hard enough to be seen.
I am passionate about the unseen. I’m always looking for them. I wrap my arms around the left out, those on the fringes. The people who look like they are trying to say something to a room that won’t look their way.
I have tried, but I can’t put a warm, reassuring arm around my own shoulders. What I do for others, I can’t do for myself.
For a long time, I’ve believed that if I tried hard enough, I would become indispensable.
People would have to see me.
If I volunteered for things, or offered to bring wine, provided unconditional support, or helped assembling countless wedding favors, I would always have somewhere to be. I would fend off my loneliness by staying on the fringes of what others were doing.
I became popular as a part of group projects. I filled up my to-do list to a chorus of “thank yous” and spent my Friday nights getting organized for the work week ahead.
And I did it with joy. I loved the thanks and the meetings and the list of things that meant I was important.
Lately, I’ve been challenged to believe that I am enough, no matter what I’m doing. Therapy and Brene Brown and Jesus are telling me that I am enough, just by being. Just like Jesus in the manger.
At that moment, as He came into the world, it was not about salvation. He had not done anything yet, except that He came. For the first thirty years of His life, we know little about the details, but we know this: the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
It was enough.
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