I often get a little frustrated this time of year because I find myself at cross-purposes with the world around me. In the days leading up to Christmas, the voices around me shout, "Go! Faster! Do!" While my soul within me is calling for something altogether different: silence, stillness, and peace. This tension can lead to a frustration and an irritability that make me absolutely no fun to be around during the holidays. They can make me the worst version of myself, which then leads to guilt and shame and even deeper frustration. It can be a downward spiral. I mean, nobody wants to be the holiday grump, right? And, more importantly, no one wants to be around the holiday grump. Somehow I don't get the impression that anyone ever asked Jesus, "Why are you so grumpy all of the time?" Thus, I am not reflecting him well when someone asks that question of me.
That is where I need to give myself to the One who is bigger than my circumstances. The One for whom we watch and wait during this Advent season. The One who came among us to show us God's deep heart of love. That is where I need to make space and time for God to root me in his love and his presence in such a way that the speed and pace and demands of the world around me don't turn me into some distorted version of the one he made me to be. The One who calls me to live as he lived, and to love as he loved. As much as I might live to the contrary, this life and this season are not about me, but about him. I would do well to remember that the next time I am irritated or frustrated with the chaotic nature of the life around me. For, in spite of the chaos, I still have the invitation and the ability to live my life so deeply rooted in his love and his affection and his presence that the circumstances around me do not determine who I am or how I treat the people in my life and my world.
O Lord, help me to not be shaped by the world around me, but to be shaped by your love and your presence. Help me, by your grace, to be a transforming presence in the world, by living as you lived and loving as you loved. Amen.