I got my schedule the other day for the week of Christmas and to say I was disappointed is a huge understatement. More like deeply saddened, grieving, and quite despondent. You see, I have to work from 11-8 on Christmas Eve.
As a result, I will miss our Christmas Eve service at church. I can’t remember the last time I missed a Christmas Eve service! It is a tradition, it is a significant part of MY Christmas experience. It is what people who love Jesus do…right?!
I figure some of “you” are saying, “See, we told you so! Commercialism is ruining Christmas! HA!”
Maybe, just maybe though, MY frustration and sadness has nothing to do with genuine spiritual interests. Maybe I am using spiritual issues as an excuse for my own self-focus. As I look at myself I realize how important my traditions, my enjoyment, my expression of life and faith matters to me…regardless.
Especially this year, am I using a “tradition” as way to work through some pain in life? Maybe…possibly…probably I am grieving the loss of what was normative in my life. Not being involved in leading the service at CCC, missing the 11:00 pm service and the special people who always attended that smaller yet very intimate gathering (James, Julie, and Robbie…that was YOUR service! Sure miss you three…), missing the snowy drive home that always detoured through downtown IF because I loved the look of the lights and snow amongst the old historic buildings…and I loved the melancholy of it all.
No question, I am very definitely (and most painfully) feeling the loss that comes with family who won’t be with us for Christmas and having grown children who have to be “with” us in a very different and emotionally uncomfortable way.
In spite of all that, having to work is not going to ruin my Christmas Eve or make me less of a Christian or less of a father or less of a man. No way. I won’t let it.
I will be off at 8:00 and in plenty of time to enjoy my family. Tatum is able to be here with us and we will FaceTime with Troy (right, Troy? FaceTime with us Christmas Eve???). There will be laughter, loudness, and much spazziness. Grammy and Raine will get teary-eyed (not me, nope, never…uh huh). Tanner will act like he doesn’t want to talk but will. Did I mention Tatum and I will be loud and annoying?
And we will read the Christmas story together and I will savor that moment of worshipping my Savior who was born to die and be raised from the dead for my sin. Nothing can take that away from me.
Do I wish I didn’t have to work? Absolutely. I told my manager, though, that maybe, just maybe, God has me working from 11-8 because there were people, even just one person, that was going to need me to encourage them and give them hope that night.
Maybe, just maybe, serving God where He put me on Christmas Eve was more important than me serving and worshipping how I planned it and wanted it.
…and in those moments, maybe, just maybe, I may find myself a little further down the road and a little closer to the One who’s birth I love to celebrate.