Experiencing the Season

mantleLast Monday night, I finished my first semester of grad school (well…kind of). Twelve papers and 4,911.5 pages of reading later, I was done. It was a momentous moment, for sure, but for some reason, I struggled to truly exhale and enjoy it.

Since we arrived to Cambridge in August, things have been crazy. I’ve been taking on a larger-than-suggested load at school and the Mister has been going to school full time, while working part time. Finding a weekend of nothing has been hard, as well. From weddings, to friends in town, to social events…it’s all kept us spinning. Last month we hosted our first Thanksgiving meal ever, and this month we both worked hard to do our best on finals and final papers. Besides our Christmas tree that is barely up, getting into the Christmas spirit – or even realizing it’s here – has been difficult. I mean, I have desperately wanted to “feel” the joy and hope of Christmas. I just couldn’t get there for some reason.

Sometimes when your adrenaline gets going it’s hard to make it stop.

I was driving to school this past Tuesday to turn in my final assignments, and it finally happened. I was listening to a Francesca Battistelli song when I noticed my eyes welling up with tears…

“I hear the bells, they’re ringing loud and clear.

You can’t help but love this time of year.

It’s Christmastime, there’s something in the air.

There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere.”

The joy of the season had finally hit me – and there was no going back.

I thought about the joy of going home and spending time with my family. I thought about how fun it is to play with my nieces and nephews. I thought about how thankful I am to be a student and learn, and how blessed I am to be married to an amazing husband who loves the Lord deeply.

More than that, though, I thought about life.

I thought about whom I once was and all that I’ve walked through. I thought about the freedom I’ve found from myself through Jesus Christ. I thought about the faithfulness of the Lord and how he always tends to create something beautiful in the midst of incomprehensible situations. And I thought about how He loves me. I thought about how He uses me for his glory, even though I am a mess in so many areas. I thought about redemption and how sweet it truly is.

I kept singing…

“It’s the smile on a man who has finally found hope.

It’s the tears of a mother whose child has come home.

It’s the joy that we feel and the love that we share.

There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere.”

Christmas means more than presents, Christmas lights, and good food. It is a sign to the world that we no longer have to live in bondage to the struggles that hold us down. It reminds us that Jesus has overcome. Christmas means hope, life and joy, as we bask in the significance of God’s overwhelming love.

Still, I kept singing…

“It’s the grace that we show to a world that needs hope.

It’s giving our lives knowing they’re not our own.

It’s the joy that we feel and the love that we share.

There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere.”

You see, Christmas saved my life.

Christmas represents the day when God became man, so that he could die for the sins of his children. Because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, I am free from bondage. I can abide with God forever. I no longer have to be defined by worldly success or possessions. I no longer have to strive endlessly for the approval of others (even though I am often tempted to do so). Christmas proves I am accepted and loved by the One who created acceptance and love.

Christmas reminds us that even when this life is hard, we have hope. It reminds us that God took care of that which we could not obtain on our own. He saved us not because our own goodness but because of his love, kindness and purposes.

Christmas means life. It means freedom. It means redemption. It means salvation.

And that, my friends, is something to sing about.

Merry Christmas! May you truly experience the season.

Lyrics by Francesca Battistelli (2012). “Heaven Everywhere.” Christmas. World Entertainment.

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