How to Treasure The Reason For This Season When Life is Hard

Faith Holiday

On Thanksgiving we sit around a table with family and friends, eat way too much delicious food, and think about all the blessings in our lives. It's honestly one of my favorite holidays, because we slow down enough to truly enjoy what's around us, to recognize all the good things in our lives.

And then we wake up the next day, in a Christmas-minded frenzy that continues until December 25th. Black Friday shopping sales. Perfecting cookie recipes for that upcoming Christmas cookie exchange. Parties and shopping and gift wrapping and Pinterest-worthy decorations and new recipes and new traditions. Our minds and calendars are full of to-dos and expectations about how every event leading up to December 25th will unfold.

How to Treasure The Reason For This Season When Life is Hard

Exchanging Our Expectations for the Beauty of His Plan

When I first held my precious son in my arms, I had dreams of what he would do and become. I didn't expect that within the first four years of his life my son would receive six diagnoses that would make some of my dreams for him close to impossible. I never dreamed that I would experience the sorrows and joys and overwhelming anxieties that come with being a special needs parent. And I definitely didn't expect that a few years later, his little brother would receive a few diagnosis of his own.

When God doesn't meet one of my expectations in life, but especially regarding my children, one of two things typically happen. I either get mad at God and demand He tell me why this happened. Or I get sad and feel like God doesn't care. I struggled with this for a long time. Still do, to be honest.

But one Christmastime, while reading through the story of the birth of Jesus, I felt God gave me fresh eyes. For the first time ever, I truly put myself in the young Mary's shoes (or sandals) and thought about what Mary must have been thinking and feeling through this journey of bringing the Savior into the world and parenting Him well. We have no idea what her thoughts and feelings were from Scripture. But since she was human I'm sure she did have expectations about how her life would unfold.

I'm positive she daydreamed about Joseph being a loving husband, of having children, and being a good wife and mother. I doubt she had huge dreams for her life, but she envisioned it with love and marriage before the baby carriage.

But then, an angel shows up. And he told her that she was favored. Chosen to be the mother of the Messiah, though she wasn't married yet. And she asked one simple question before saying yes.  I would have had zillions. And some "Uh, I think you have the wrong person" statements thrown in for good measure.

Not only was this announcement unexpected, but it would change her life, her status, her reputation, everything. But she only asked one question about the whole thing and accepted it. She accepted that she was merely a servant of the Lord and ready to do as He asked of her. She accepted that being favored meant not necessarily that she would receive earthly riches and an easy-breezy life, but that she was chosen for something important to His eternal purpose.

By saying "Yes" to God, she got to experience the beauty of being the mother of this precious child who would change the world in ways she couldn't even imagine. It didn't all make sense, but it was purposeful and worthy of praise.

Luke 2:19 says "Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."  Oh, how I wish I pondered and treasured the things of God in my life, like Mary. Instead, I tend to start focusing on what's next on my to-do list, or how things aren't going my way. How I wish I could treasure up and ponder the beauty of the Savior of the world coming into the world through the yielded body of Mary. And how I wish I could be a little more like her, not just this Christmas season, but every day. Merry Christmas!! Jenn

Your turn: What do you admire most about Mary's heart that you want to experience this Christmas season? (I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!)