The Saturday after Thanksgiving Curtis and I drove to church, practicing the music for our church’s weekend services on the way. The set included Joy to the World.
It was also 90 degrees outside.
It’s an atypical Christmas for us this year, to say the least. We have some decorations, but no tree. My shopping is already done and everything is wrapped. I’m low on my quotient of peppermint infused sweets.
But mainly, I sometimes feel a pressure to be experiencing Christmas more profoundly this year than ever before, being 9 months pregnant in December and all. Shouldn’t I have some sort of tangible connect to Mary hitherto unknown to me?
I mean, I guess swollen ankles and aching backs are tangible connections.
I will say, I have experienced a different sort of connection to Christmas this year in this: let every heart prepare him room.
I literally spend some of my energy, almost everyday, on preparing my home for a baby. Little by little, our house is becoming Riley’s home, ready for him to come and live with us.
Yesterday we installed the car seat, figuring out how the umpteen buttons worked.
Last weekend we resized all our diapers, washing them in special detergent and air-drying them.
Prior to that I sorted the odds and ends by function–feeding stuff, diapering stuff, toys, books.
At points we purged some things to make room for new baby things.
And when he arrives, he’ll be all ours, forever. We’ll be adjusting and accommodating our way of life to his presence from now on.
It is interesting to be in a baby preparation process in our home right during the season when we are invited to do the same in our hearts.
Bob Munger has a wonderful reflection on Ephesians 3:16 entitled My Heart, Christ’s Home. The passage reads,
That God would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner self; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.
Munger talks about the process of inviting Christ to truly live in his heart, giving over each room to him. Jesus moves through the home of his heart, room by room, reordering the life that is lived in that space–the appetites that guide the meals in the dining room, the images on the walls of the library of the mind, the activities pursued in the rec room.
To me, one of the strange dynamics of Christian discipleship is this: when we follow Jesus we are changed, and yet we become more of ourselves. When Jesus moves into our heart, makes his home therein, that home life is changed through and through. And yet, as we are changed by him, we become more and more of who he created us to be in the first place.
“You-ier,” I’ve heard it called. Making room in your hearts for Jesus makes you “you-ier.”
I imagine, or at least I hope, that something similar will happen with parenting. When a child comes into your family, you don’t stop being yourself, totally consumed by that new person. You are still yourself, just as a parent. Life with that child may change all your routines, success-markers, or weekend activities, but it does not rob you of your identity. You are still you, but you are changed.
It’s an analogy of much smaller proportions, certainly, becoming a parent compared to becoming a follower of Jesus. But in both instances, I have a chance to engage in the process of preparing room, something I plan to do, this month and always.