Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Reflections on the Real

Well. In the last two weeks, we spent five days on the road, slept on four different mattresses, visited sixteen family members, saw nine different friends, and finished three books. It was a good holiday visit on the East Coast, but it was a busy one. It was meaningful and much-needed, but it was tiring. It was (as I've already shared) a powerful display of God's goodness and faithfulness toward me, but it was not warm and fuzzy. 

In a way, it was exactly what I asked for. I waxed poetic a few posts back about "A Real Christmas"- an encounter with the Incarnational love of Jesus Christ that is neither comfortable nor picturesque, but good; about a God who gives life in a gritty, painful, real sort of way. I wrote about a God who turns our expectations upside down but who, in offering Himself brings a much deeper joy than could any of our expected deliverers.

This Christmas, He turned my expectations upside down. I wanted a restful, comfortable, peaceful vacation. I wanted stress-free interactions with family and friends. I wanted everything to be smooth and happy at all times and I wanted to wake up on Christmas morning with stars in my eyes. I'll summarize by saying those things didn't happen. I didn't get what I wanted out of Christmas. Instead, I got what is real- and I ate my words a little bit. I realized how much more painful it is to embrace the real over the romantic, and I questioned my desire for it, because it reminded me of the truth that when God- the Light- comes, I see some things that I don't want to see. I'm faced with some realities that aren't pretty. When the Real comes, it means I have to deal with the real crap that is under the candy coating of my so-desperately-longed-for-comfort.

This may seem pessimistic, but it actually has encouraged me. It has shown me that I can't put my hope in a comfortable holiday. It has shown me that my efforts to keep up appearances and hide the junk in my heart are weak, and it has put weight to the words that real is better than romantic. This Christmas, I got to face my choices. Keep hiding, or face the Real. Neither path is painless, and only one leads to true joy.

I'm learning that it's scarier, quite possibly more painful, and definitely harder to face the Real. But I'm also learning that a painful joy tastes far better than a sugar-coated tragedy. I'm learning.


asnipofgoodness said...

Oh yes Hannah, painful joy tastes much much better than sugar-coated tragedy. Well said!

fun to have found you:)

Anonymous said...

Hannah, I think you are on to something :) Thanks for posting; I think we have a lot in common ;-)
-kristina miller

twiggy said...

miss ya'll, and i'm sure you've heard this from all of us "east-coasters", wish we could've seen ya'll!