The other day, a good friend of mine told me that I remind her of her mother. Now, I don't know her mom personally, but when the conversation begins with "I've been wondering how to say this without offending you", you know it's gonna be interesting. And interesting it was...eye-opening too, because she made a very good point.
Like all people, I like things the way I like them. There is a small chance...teeny weeny...that I might take this to the extreme. I have nothing against spontaneity as long as we have planned for it and it was my idea in the first place...I tend to have a narrow scope of what elements are needed for an experience to be successful, and if the ingredients step out of those boundaries, I am more likely to give up the experience or opportunity all together. I don't think my friend had any idea how much I would take that conversation to heart.
In the last few days, I have found myself saying yes to things that I know will challenge the structured life I try to live. I know how awful this will sound, but I have even allowed myself to be inconvenienced. In my ever so meager defense, though, we as a people don't usually do what will inconvenience us. Because of that, however, I believe we miss out on some of the wonderful unplanned blessings that could be ours.
I am grateful for this conversation, even though it came up just as a chat in the course of a visit.
Anyway, this time of year brings out the best and the worst in me. I love, love, love all things Christmas. I am overwhelmed by the majesty of the Lord's birth. The other night, my husband and I took the kids to Christmas in the Country, the light display at Country Springs Hotel in Pewaukee. We took them even though it was getting late and moving into what we fondly call stupor time, and we had a great time. At the end of the display, there is a building that houses a life-size Fontanini nativity scene. As I was reading the Christmas story from the Book of Luke aloud, I got so choked up I could hardly continue. I don't know if anyone else felt it, but the weight of glory and the truth of the words took my breath away. All I wanted to do was stand there in awe and contemplate the great thing God has done.
But, I was there with two little wound up boys and a husband who was way out of his comfort zone. It was dark out and he was not in his studio apartment (our bedroom) watching TV. The worst in me wanted to resent the intrusion on my adoration of my King, but....if we hadn't have come out in the first place I never would have seen the nativity or read the scroll with the Christmas story. I tried to convey my excitement to the kids, but they wanted to get to the next building with the electric train display. As we went to the next room, I reminded myself that for two kids up almost past bedtime, they were behaving remarkably well. They were excited, but it was an exciting place. We walked around the giant train display together, munching on decorated sugar cookies, took our picture in the old-fashioned sleigh, and headed home.
In the process of allowing the family to do something that was dangerously close to being out of bounds, we made a wonderful Christmas memory. My four year old said that it was the best part of the holiday weekend.
In the small challenge posed by the statement "You remind me of my mom", which was probably never intended to be a challenge, I have opened myself up to life. Blessings don't come accordingly to my schedule, when they are convenient and expected, but they come when I give up a little control, a little of the way I think things should be. I will be on the lookout this season to experience the majesty of Christmas not when I have created the right environment, but when the timing might not be perfect. I will try to just let life happen a little more often, looking for God to show up in the unexpected.
Will you join me this season in saying "Yes" when it would be easier or make more sense to say "No" and just see what God does with it? I would love to hear what happens.