Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Quiet Love: Lovely Christmas

This is the third guest post in A Quiet Love, the second week of the A Quiet Advent series.

About the author: Jen Justice enjoys a simple life in Atlanta with her husband Josh and little dog Ammy. She writes about faith at To Be a Gazing Soul, about simplifying gluten/dairy free food and other things at A Simple Home, and about everything above and more on Twitter @jen_justice.

I live in Georgia where the winters are mild, but there is still a chill in the air during this season. And when that chill comes, it brings with it a change in my emotional climate. I admit it: I love Christmas time. It's cliched, but at Christmas time everything seems a little more lovely. We become a little kinder, a little less self-absorbed, a little more generous. It's become fashionable to be cynical about Christmas. But I still see such beauty, hope, and love in the season.

Right about now you might be thinking, "Wow, she is naive." But stick with me for a moment. I know that modern Christmas "love" is known for being showy and commercial, stressful and chaotic—anything but quiet, anything but peaceful, and quite contrary to the Silent Night we sing about. And yet, under all the commotion, I see hearts and minds quietly being drawn to the true way of love.

This week, my husband and I were discussing our ignorance of the meaning of Boxing Day, a Canadian holiday. I guessed it referred to the sport of boxing and my husband guessed it related to boxing up Christmas decorations. We discovered that the boxing was actually boxes of goods to be given to charity or service people. Today, in Canada and a few other countries, Boxing Day is much like the U.S.'s Black Friday. A day that used to be designated for giving to those in need is now used for shopping sprees.

Our nature is to turn any occasion into a benefit for ourselves, but somehow—by God's grace—at Christmas, many of us spend on our efforts on giving rather than only getting. For a season the other person becomes more important than ourselves. The Red Cross reports that the majority of Americans plan to give to charity this holiday season, even during a slow economy, just as they did last year. 

This might not seem like much, and in comparison to what Christ has done for us, it is indeed a weak, small type of love. And yet, I find it beautiful that during the season that we celebrate God coming to earth as a man, He gives us the grace to step a little closer to being the loving men and women He created us to be—all of us, believers and unbelievers. To me, considering the true nature of humanity, this is nothing short of a miracle.

It's my hope that in the midst of the busyness of shopping and parties and performances this advent season, we will be able to take a second look at the whirlwind and find glimpses of the love that this season draws out of those around us: The hostess who cheerfully shares her home with friends and family, the teacher who spent hours helping children learn a play, the family who is out buying toys for children in need, the hands that decorated your world so beautifully for the season. Small acts of love surround us during this merry season and give us a glimpse of the world of love to come.

As we turn our eyes to see the love that surrounds our Savior's birth, I pray that we would grow in our love toward humankind. Instead of growing in bitterness and cynicism because sinful humans still act greedy and selfish, I pray that we would rejoice in every act of goodwill. As we await the coming of our Savior, may we be a people marked by love—not only giving love but having eyes that see love in unexpected places.

"whatever is lovely...think about such things." Philippians 4:8 

I wish you all a lovely Christmas.