mixed emotions.

The Christmas season is upon us again, which often means our joys and sorrows seem increasingly magnified. If our lives are overflowing with joy and love, well, the string of lights and beautifully decorated Christmas tree seems to energize that happiness. But if we’re treading a path of suffering or unmet longings, it seems that our pain is only increased by the continual reminder of what could have, or should have been. Personally, each year I feel like I have such mixed emotions when it comes to this season.

Being a single woman, Christmas time is both exceptionally sweet and a reminder of what is not. I will not be cuddling up on the couch with a husband with a delicious cup of hot cocoa and White Christmas playing, nor will I be buying my own children matching onesies. However, I will be baking delicious cookies with roommates and have the sweet smell of cinnamon filling the house. I’ll be torn between enjoying my parents and family in New York on Christmas day while simultaneously missing my community in Virginia, the friends who makeup my daily life. Like I said, mixed emotions.

Regardless of how we’re walking through this Christmas season, every point at which life does not measure up will  somehow be exposed (or at least that’s how it will feel). As we venture into this Christmas season we will be deeply disappointed if we compare ourselves to those whose lives are living up to the Christmas ideal. I feel as though setting my hopes on a perfect Hallmark-type Christmas will only leave me feeling alone and unsatisfied. If my focus is solely on the movies and malls and ugly sweater events, I will miss out on intimacy with my Savior (the only one truly is able to fully understand the deepest places of my heart). So, I have told myself that this year I will focus on God working in my life in ways that only He can, instead of focusing on the ‘could haves’ or ‘should haves’ that arise this Christmas season.

As unmet longings and desires seem to be awakened this season, we should remember to spend quiet time in God’s Word. In order to be reminded of the ways that He meets our longings and our desires each and every day. I know for myself, I want to look beyond my own wants while delighting in and helping others throughout this season (and even moving into the 2017 year).

While I intend to hold my nieces and nephew on the couch and watch Hallmark movies with my mom, decorate Christmas cookies, sing with Michael Buble in the kitchen, splurge on peppermint mochas, dine with friends, and perhaps even let myself dream of the unlikely (if not impossible) Hallmark type love story through a movie or two, my hope will not be in these things. My hope will rest in my Lord and Savior. And however cliche this may sound, I will remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. The Christmas ideal (or fantasy) will not be mistaken for my Savior and the reason we celebrate this holiday.

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