For the Weary One at Christmastime

This was originally written for the annual Christmas gathering of Sojourn — the women’s group at the church I attend. I’m happy to share it here with you as well.

weary-at-christmas

There are 17 more days until Christmas – 17 more days to get the gifts bought and wrapped, to plan the menus, to arrange the outings and convince your partner or kids or friends that they will be fun! Fun! Fun!.

There are less than three weeks to come up with a gift for your kids’ teacher or your work colleague, to help your kids, if you have them, understand the “true meaning of Christmas” in a commercial-filled world. 17 days to find a quiet enough moment to understand it for yourself.

There are 17 more days of potlucks and White Elephant parties and crowded parking lots and where did I put that gift receipt?! and sugar on your kitchen floor, sticking to the bottoms of your feet. 17 more days of tinsel and ornaments and Rudolph and carols and family get togethers and Christmas-themed junk mail in your email inbox.

Are you weary?

There are 17 more days until Christmas, but it’s just another 17 more nights when children around the world will go to sleep hungry, another 17 days in which refugees pile into trucks like stacked wood to escape the terror of their homeland. It’s another 17 days of political unrest in Uganda and political posturing in America and angry political posts on Facebook.

It’s another 17 days without the son who died unexpectedly, without the daughter who left angry, without your husband who passed away, without the partner you’ve been praying for or the baby you’ve been trying for. It’s 17 more days to look for a job that you can’t find. 17 more days of dreading another holiday apart from your estranged family. It’s just another 17 days of trying to fight the cancer in your breast or the anxiety in your brain or the depression that fills you up like shadow.

Just another 17 days of life on this broken earth.

Are you weary?

You are living your life in the productivity-obsessed 21st century, and you are responsible for so much. Your heart has stretched, over the years, to make space for the world, the steady work of it, the expectations filling you up and weighing you down.

You live in a Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest society, where there is always something you could be doing better. You are feeding your children nitrate-filled hot dogs! You are eating too much sugar! You are watching too much Netflix! There is always some shaming whisper murmuring at the back of your mind – You should be thinner, prettier, healthier, more spiritual, more committed…better. It is exhausting to remind yourself again and again and again that this voice is not the truth.

Are you weary?

Do you find yourself waking up in the morning, blinking in the fluorescent light of the clock, 17 days before Christmas, feeling like it might be too much for your small, tired heart to take?

Are you weary?

Here is the truth about Christmas: It was through a weary woman that the world’s great Hope was born.

In the end, God did not choose to make his way into the world through the well-rested princess or the master organizer. Jesus was not born into the perfectly kept home kept by the tireless, grinning wife.

God did not come at the end of a completed to-do list. Rather, the angel came in the middle of everything. “Greetings, you who are highly favored,” he said to a woman who had not yet done anything really, and she accepted the incomprehensible gift.

Friend, the moment that the world is changed is such a weary moment to behold.

Here is Mary, exhausted in the hay. For nine months she has carried the weight of fear and hope, of disapproval and misunderstanding, the mystery of incarnation in her young virgin womb. For days, she has ridden on a donkey across a vast wilderness because a tyrannical government has required it. Her feet are coated with dirt from the journey.

She is nine months pregnant, heavy and awkward and tired and afraid, resting not on a bed or a mat but on the cold floor of some cave, the grunts and lowing of animals echoing on the stone walls around her, the contractions coming like wave upon wave until she feels like she could drown.

Are you weary?

Look into the stable. Look at the girl waiting there for the birth of God’s son.

You are not alone.

This is how the world becomes new: not in the bright-eyed victory but in the weary surrender.

Here is the sound of the Christ-child – of God crying out from weary, infant lungs. It is power and Light made fragile and small, held against the weary breast of a woman.

She is crying exhausted tears, and it is a kind of rejoicing. She is closing her eyes, and it is the most honest kind of praise.

Are you weary?

17 more days until Christmas. 17 more days until we celebrate the moment when Love broke into the world through the weary, for the weary.

The world is heavy and dark, but there is a small spark, a burst of flame hidden in the stable-cave in Bethlehem. Hope has come, and hope is coming, and you don’t have to feel Christmasy or energetic or happy or filled with good cheer.

Stumble toward that tiny light with all of your tired, bleeding, broken heart, because Love has come for you. For me. For the whole weary world.

Rejoice. Rejoice. Rejoice.

33 thoughts on “For the Weary One at Christmastime

  1. Amen. So glad you shared this here too. My physical weariness and exhaustion of days with littles is long gone, but the soul weariness, yes. When all around us are all Happy! and Cheer! etc it is hard to wait quietly, expectantly, to embrace this darkness before the light. I treasure places like your blog where you and all the lovely readers welcome each other to sit in this weariness, waiting.

  2. Love, like a magical elixir, is the only cure for the weary. So sad for most of us the bottle goes unopened, we see it we just can’t fathom its curative powers. Our hurting and angry hearts hold what little love that has found its way in, like a prisoner in a dark dungeon; we fear setting it free will leave us with nothing.

    Your words break down dungeon’s iron cell door and free we who are victims of self-imprisonment. Filled with new hope and eyes to see how giving love just multiplies love, we can turn the next 17 days into celebration.

    On behalf, of us all who think we struggle alone, thanks for the extended hand of friendship and lighting up a path to freedom.

  3. Wow.

    I have read lines like this before: “There is always some shaming whisper murmuring at the back of your mind – You should be thinner, prettier, healthier, more spiritual, more committed…better.'”

    I have NEVER read this before: “It is exhausting to remind yourself again and again and again that this voice is not the truth.”

    So deeply true and brilliant.

  4. Thank you Addie.Seventeen days ago our precious youngest daughter unexpectantly took her own life.Our world feels dark and heavy as we grieve.We are a Christian family and have hope-without that I don’t know how we could go on.Christmas will be hard yet we rejoice in Immanuel-God with us.

    1. I’m so so sorry Mari. There are no words to heal that kind of hole. Yes– Immanuel. The word made flesh and well-acquainted with suffering. Praying for you and your family this season.

    2. Thanks for your words that reach the most broken hearted, parents that lose their children to suicide. Mari, you are not alone, my 24 year old son took his life just 24 days ago. The only Bible verse I’ve been able to read is “blessed are those that mourn, for they will be comforted.” My heart breaks along side of yours.

  5. Thank you, Addie. Your words speak directly into my heart. I especially appreciate the perspective of “17 more days” that the weary of the world endures and of how God’s Love was/is expressed through a weary means.

  6. Thanks again, Addie, for doing this work that helps us see well. (AND for whatever you did to reformat your blog for improved readability. It’s both beautiful and hospitable.)

    1. Thanks Gwen! (And yes! The blog redesign was a long time coming! Glad it’s easier to read!)

  7. “Stumble toward that tiny light with all of your tired, bleeding, broken heart, because Love has come for you. For me. For the whole weary world.” Love this.

  8. I can’t sleep tonight, refreshing my google search for more news out of Aleppo. Will the ceasefire hold? Will Assad’s evil men continue to massacre civilians? I am weary and guilty for my weariness here in my comfortable home, folding laundry and catching up on tv shows while I wait for the news to update.

    But then I remembered I hadn’t yet read this post. Addie, you have a gift for making space for lament and heartache without hurrying anybody towards some kind of easy hope. I’m so grateful for that. For you. For the space you hold for suffering.

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