Yesterday morning, I dropped off my teenager with my dad, who was taking him to school since I had to be at work early. My dad asked, “How are you this morning?” My answer: “Exhausted!”
My dad’s response, stated not as a rebuke but with love, understanding, and humor, was not what I was expecting. “Is that all? Then you’re doing good.”
The statement stopped me in my furiously frantic tracks for a moment. In true holiday fashion, this week had been exponentially busy. Just in the last twenty-four hours, I had taught four classes of eighth graders how to measure the circumference of a Ritz cracker with a string and a ruler, attended three student basketball games, picked up my son from practice while braving torrential rain and holiday traffic…(takes a breath), and finally rushed to complete and upload lesson plans and complete an online training before a midnight deadline. I thought I was being humble when I replied with a simple “exhausted.”
“Then you’re doing good” continuously rang in my ears like the chorus of a Christmas tune as I drove to work. “I am doing good,” I concluded silently.
“My children are healthy.”
“I was able to get out of bed on my own this morning, and I enjoyed a warm house, hot water, and sufficient food.”
“I have a loving husband who would never hurt me, and family and friends who always support me.”
…and as a musical score to my thoughts, a beloved Christmas song came on the radio, a reminder of what makes everything okay even when nothing is okay: God sent his Son so that I can be reconciled to The Father.
“Yes,” I concluded, “all is well.”
The day that followed my thoughtful morning was rich with Christmas experiences… the excitement of students as they waited for the holidays to officially begin, the sweet sounds of middle school carolers who visited this teacher and made her cry, my toddler twins’ faces as they showed me cute and crafty treats from their pre-school Christmas party, jokes with my fifteen-year-old son who is a week away from getting his license, and ending the day by finishing a Netflix movie with my best friend who is also my husband while lights twinkled on our evergreen tree.
I was still exhausted…even more so than when I declared it to my dad that morning. The great thing about the peace, love, and joy that Christ gives, however, is that they endure regardless of outward circumstances.
So as these Christmas days come upon us, I wish you peace, love, and joy. Single mom, you may be exhausted as you make your final efforts to have presents under the tree for your precious babies in a few days. Dear friend who has lost a loved one, you may be exhausted from going through the motions so many days when all you want to do is crumble. Sick one, you may be exhausted as your body fights disease or injury, while your mind fights the fear that things will never resume to normality. Hurt one, you may be exhausted as you work to forget the past, all the while terrified that it will ruin your future. Lost one, you may be exhausted from trying to find your own way.
Let me remind us all, and most especially myself, that The One born in Bethlehem and laid in a manger is now seated at the right hand of The Father. He can give us rest… the kind that endures even when we are exhausted at Christmas.
Love to you all