Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Yellow and Red

Last night, I drove the three little kids to see a Christmas lights display in a city 45 minutes away, in Cory's old beater with no working radio. I'm not sure how or why, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

When we discovered a new-to-us sub joint with bottles of malt vinegar on the tables for the hand-cut fries, things were looking up. But when we found ourselves at Wal Mart to do last-minute Christmas shopping after dark, the evening took on a decidedly bleak tune.

I've spent the past few weeks in a dash to finish the edits on my first book, and it's not the writing or the work that exhausts me. It's the worry that I'll hold it in my hands in the end and believe it could have been better.

Can you imagine a better way to suck the soul out of art? The fear that maybe it won't be perfect?

I promise you: it won't be perfect.

But as much as I kept reminding myself of the truth, it didn't sink in until Silas came down with one of the scariest kid-illnesses in the history of my motherhood, three days before my deadline.

He's fine now, and it whipped my priorities into shape - but quick.

A few nights ago I lay in bed, eyes burning, and told Cory I wished I would come down with a sore throat. Not strep, just sore. And with a low fever. I wanted an excuse to be taken down for a few days. As soon as the words escaped I wanted to gather them up like a burst of confetti and stuff them back inside. But I knew I'd never find all those little pieces and most of them had already hit the floor.

Maybe it's the exhaustion I'm feeling. Or the sensation of having all of my emotions siphoned out through my fingertips. Maybe it's the two guys staying in the basement for a while who simultaneously fill me up and make me tired.

Maybe it's the fact that I feel extra-needed right now, when what I really want is a maid. I want to stop waking up the next morning realizing I was too spent to tell Cory really important things that had happened the day before, or even two.

Just like last year and the year before, I have neighbors sending me desperate text messages this week about eviction notices and loved ones who are slowly killing themselves before their eyes. I have friends hiding out in fear, nearly snuffed out by the oppression life deals them. There are people I love leaning hard toward chemical love, unable to believe the real kind stands right next to them, waiting.

Surprise, surprise.
Christmas is hard this year.

It's bright and warm and it is so, so sad. I fight back the temptation, just like always, to huddle up and pretend the problems banging on my door are not my own. I say I want a simpler way, pretending Jesus came to bring joy and forgetting that he also came to suffer life with us.

We get to taste all of it, with him at our table, along with whoever else happens to stop by.

Last night, after the Italian subs and the cheap, Wal Mart tokens of our unending love, we hit up a massive, subdivision lights display.

It was fun until it wasn't, and as we (finally) escaped and drove away, Silas said, quietly, "My heart feels yellow. Yellow means lonely."

We know Christmas is red and green. It's been ingrained in us since birth.

But do we have the guts to admit it's also kind of yellowish? Can we possibly bear all three?

His law is love and his gospel is peace.
He knew we'd spend part of life swimming in sadness and at war.

He didn't wave a wand and spirit it all away from afar. He came to bear it alongside us, and ultimately, to conquer it.

I wrote a post today over at (in)courage, sort of a manifesto for all our happy/sad, battered hearts. I hope it brings you comfort, somehow. I hope you'll pass it along to someone who might need the reminder that they aren't a misfit or a weirdo, they're just a little yellow, along with Silas and the rest of us. 

Hopeful Always,