The story started with a stressed out woman breaking down at Bible study group on Wednesday feeling the pressure of too much to do in too little time.
That night, after the cooking and the errands and the mailing off of packages a little too late, I put on my church dress with my guitar in hand. I dropped off my side dishes and desserts at the potluck and then headed down to the sanctuary to rehearse and get ready for the service.
Like I do so often, I had taken a blessing and turned it into a burden. I was looking at everything with eyes of fear afraid of making a mistake. I saw the chance to love my family and honor them with gifts as a test that I would fail and so reveal, once again, how far off the mark I am from day to day. And that kind of worry and anxiety is never whispered from heaven, it's only ever the voice of the enemy.
That night, in my worry and anxiety, I stood up in front of the congregation beside a group of high school students and we made a joyful noise. I can tell you right when my fear and worry melted away. We were singing the chorus,
And I heard all those voices singing out, the violin coming in soaring over the drums and I looked to our youth leader, Josh, playing guitar to my left and we smiled at each other because it was as great as we had hoped it would be and just like that the burden was lifted.
The rest of the evening was awesome. Not just because the music was great and the young people of our community and congregation were singing and playing their hearts out, but because my heart had been healed. Again. It was like God came to me and said, "Let me remind you how much I love you. Let me remind you of how none of this is riding on you because I've already done all the hard stuff for you. So sit back, relax and do what you can. 'Come unto me all you who are weary and I will give you rest. For my yolk is easy and my burden is light.'"
That's true. After Wednesday's service I worked all Thursday getting ready for the Christmas Eve program. There was lots of do and not that much time to get it done, but I felt set free. I still feel that. And it was such a significant change in perspective that I had to tell you guys about it.
The Christmas Eve service was great, we ate meatballs and I wore high heels. We went to church on Christmas morning, Sammy played in the brass ensemble, then we came home, opened gifts and went to Paul and Emily's. The kids played and had a grand time. We feasted on roast beast and talked about the art of the homily (among other things).
What I learned is that peace can be hard to come by even when it's staring us in the face sometimes. We do make life harder than it really is simply by imagining that we are the ones in control. Jesus showed up in the middle of nowhere to a bunch of nobodies. He doesn't hand out love according to our resumes. He didn't come for just the cool kids, he came for all the kids. He looks at us running like hamsters on wheels and says, "You look like you could use a break." And we do. And He gives us one. Forever. Merry Christmas.