I had looked forward to yesterday for weeks and weeks. My mother in law offered to keep Asher while I shopped for the last of my Christmas list. I treated myself big by hiring my house to be cleaned. This is a luxury item, and I wanted the feeling of just once, to have a completely clean house. I felt pampered when I walked in, spoiled even. I sat and sipped hot Tazo Refresh tea, binging on Hallmark Christmas movies. A house with four boys doesn't stay clean for long, so I was going to live it up for an evening.
Enter 3 am. Asher, the toddler, who has never thrown up in his entire life, decided to make his vomiting debut. Since he was bewildered at what was happening, the vomit was everywhere except the toilet. His bed. His favorite blankets. His floor. The living room floor as he made his way to find me. And on and on. His trail of what the chunk is that? became my trail of tears.
I just wanted a pristinely clean home for our family. For more than a few hours...
I'm reminded this Christmas season over and over of this: we don't just dwell in messes, we are the mess. As me and my friend joke, "Man it's hard to be us!" I think of those trying to move forward in grief, wondering how to celebrate without a father, without a husband. I think of those struggling with infertility, wanting nothing more than to simply hold the image of God, wrapped against their chests. I think of those in such excruciating pain that they beg the Almighty to take them home, their words seeming to fall on deaf ears. I think of cancer free people who find new spots, their reprieve from the waiting and praying and medicating lasting mere moments in the grand scheme and story.
The pain is real. The mess is real.
I stepped right in it. You would think after sixteen years of vomit-fest nights, I would have learned to flip a switch before I go traipsing through the house. But, no, the wet chunks squeezed between my toes, reminding me that I never really will have my act together. In a lot of ways, I always will be a mess. You might as well engrave it on my gravestone, She was a grace covered mess.
In my mind, I see that God-fleshed baby swaddled in a manger. Growing up with livestock, I know the feeding trough is layered with leftover grain, matted up with saliva and stuck to the sides like glue. I smell the cattle, donkeys, and sheep, and see the manure caked up on their backsides. The blood and afterbirth soaked the ground, and I wonder if Joseph had anything available to clean Mary up with. Sometimes we glorify the nativity to such an extent that we overlook just how messy it must have been.
He was birthed right into our mess. That is Christmas. We, humanity, are a hopeless and sinful people who can't get out of our messes on our own...goodness, we can't even pay others to get us out of our messes.
We can invite Jesus into the mess called our lives. He will graciously redeem, but, I can't promise He will always clean up every little thing, at least not while we dwell here on earth. Sometimes, He is glorified in the mess, the daily allotment of grace to dwell there, to see God there. Will we choose to see God in the mess this Christmas season?