While I didn’t actually wrap any presents this year, I really like wrapping presents. I like the neatness of rolled paper (never folded), straight cuts, exact folds, and of course, invisible tape. It appeals to my ocds and I experience a great deal of satisfaction in the effort, even in the challenge of the oddly shaped items (which if at all possible will be placed in a box). I like the idea of a gift presented in a box covered with beautiful paper and a bow. It’s just so….neat.
While this was the most unChristmasy Christmas I’ve ever had, there were still moments of concentrated busy-ness with a few preparations. We love Jesus. Really we do. We just don’t make a big deal out of the season in the sense of decorating and gift-giving. (This takes a lot of pressure off, but comes across as a bit Scrooge-ish to many.) We gather with family for a meal, enjoy a game or two and the conversations and laughter, and if the little ones are with us we watch as they excitedly open their gifts. It’s a simple celebration that suits me fine.
As does the gift bag. It’s simple and easy and requires very little effort. It’s supposed to have creases and folds because that’s what makes it a bag, and therefore, acceptable in appearance. It comes in many sizes and colors, does not need a bow (one less thing), and the gift within is hidden from view by tissue paper stuffed in the top which is intentionally messy. I don’t know who came up with the idea that messy is how something is supposed to look, but thank you. I can do neat, but let’s face it, messy is much quicker and easier and seems to come much more naturally.
It’s time to wrap up another year and honestly, it’s been a weird year for me. Not bad, just different. It’s been uncomfortable in that it seemed to have many a wrinkle that I’d rather not have been there. The corners are still crooked and the end seems unfinished. The invisible tape that is not really invisible at all simply shows my limited ability to hold some things together so that it will look acceptable to others. It seems I am still tempted to force an oddly shaped life into a standard box. Somewhere along the line I believed the message that our boxes may differ in size, weight, and contents but they should still look like a box. It was easy to convince me that the standard is a box because that appeals to my nature. Neat.
But life is rarely neat. It’s more like the gift bag. Creases are a part of it. It comes in many different shapes and sizes and colors and designs and the treasure within is often hidden by something that actually looks pretty messy. It’s challenging to accept messy in our lives because we feel compelled to fix it and make it look neat because surely that’s how it’s supposed to look. No doubt there are things we need to fix. But there are so many things that make our lives feel messy that we simply cannot fix. Our lives have been altered by many a decision and event, good ones and bad ones, and we are left with something that we didn’t expect, some good and some bad.
This year some of us had an empty seat at the table, a seat that will never again be filled. Some of us had family that were not present in our lives because of hurt or anger or addiction. Some of us were fighting just to survive, to keep our heads above water. Some of us questioned our faith and felt as if the waves of doubt would overtake us. Some of us had difficulties behind closed doors that no one knows about. Some of us were alone. Really alone. Some of us had broken promises and shattered dreams and deep disappointments and unanswered prayers. And most of us are finishing this year with things in our lives that remain messy, things we cannot fix and make neat.
This is exactly why Jesus came. He knew that no matter how hard we tried to be good and make our lives neat and presentable, we would still be messy. He sees the treasure within, He sees us for who we really are and loves us all the more. He delightedly accepts the offering of our messy lives because just like the gift bag they are reusable. He can still do something with them.
God has been with me all year. He never left or wavered in His love and attention toward me. But it is apparent that I will enter the new year with some things that haven’t changed, things that are still messy. I was thinking again this morning of the serenity prayer and that this is exactly what I need to pray, especially the first phrase, as I begin a new year:
- God, give me grace to accept with serenity
- the things that cannot be changed,
- Courage to change the things
- which should be changed,
- and the Wisdom to distinguish
- the one from the other.
- Living one day at a time,
- Enjoying one moment at a time,
- Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
- Taking, as Jesus did,
- This sinful world as it is,
- Not as I would have it,
- Trusting that You will make all things right,
- If I surrender to Your will,
- So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
- And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Through Grace accepting with serenity – utter calm and unruffled repose or quietude – the things I cannot change. My messy life is His to do with whatever He will because when He looks at me He sees what Jesus has done and it is perfectly acceptable to Him.
I pray that you will join me as we enter a new year embracing the lives that we have, full of confident hope that God is working, even in the mess. Be blessed.
“2015: Wrapping it up” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com