Making Room... a Christmas & New Year Reflection.
Advent is such a wonderful time! We prepare ourselves to celebrate the coming of sweet baby Jesus, the lover of our souls and king of our hearts. And we ponder the humility, gentleness, and openness of Mary and Joseph as they prepare to welcome into the world their Son, who also happens to be the Son of God. There is always so much to be grateful for, to anticipate, and to celebrate in this period of waiting, yet this year was a stretch for joy for me. I walked into Mass each week leading up to Christmas to hear songs exclaiming that I should “rejoice” and that I should “prepare him room.” But it felt as if this heart of mine had no room to offer. I felt more like the innkeepers that rejected Mary and Joseph as they searched for a place to rest - unprepared and unable to make room for the coming of the Lord. Then Christmas arrived and, somehow, he still came. The Savior came and I left him at the door of my heart just waiting for me to invite him inside.
So now I am in this weird place of wanting to let him in while also wanting to add more locks to the door of my heart to shut him out. It is not that my heart has turned into a brick, or that I am turning into the Grinch (before his heart grew three sizes); I am just trying to dig into these ebbing emotions and thoughts to figure out what is actually filling the rooms of my heart. And you know what I have been finding? A whole lot of pride and a lack of faith.
Pride is something that I have been struggling with for years, unknowingly (the devil is a sneaky one, let me tell ya). It is not that I often think “wow, I am an amazing human being that deserves all the praise in the world.” No, it is far more subtle than that. This is the type of pride that planted itself in my heart and grew into the belief that God would never reveal his will for my life. These weeds filled up one room, knocked down a wall, and overtook another whenever I decided to grasp onto my own will to save myself from waiting. And, before I knew it, half of the rooms within the walls of my heart were full of these hideous, obtrusive weeds that know no bounds. And, since they have been feeding me these lies that the Lord will never show me his will, I fell into a lack of faith.
Much like Thomas, I often find myself seeking tangible/visible proof of God’s presence in my life. “Where are you, Lord?” is a common question in my prayer life, even when I am in a place of great faith and trust. But, when I allow pride to turn my heart into a home, this question transforms from curiosity into condemnation. I go from seeking to understand the Lord’s role in every aspect of my life to placing blame on the Lord for, what seems like, a lack of an answer to repeated prayers. So then I despair, I lean on my own understanding, and I find ways to somehow scrape by on my own terms.
This is where I am this Christmas season. My mind knows that the Lord is always with me waiting at the door, but my heart has left no room for trust as it has filled itself to the brim with pride and a lack of faith. And this is the heart that should be rejoicing and preparing him room?
But, what if the Lord is not asking me and you to stress ourselves out to make room for him this Christmas season, or during this new year? What if all he is asking for is a simple ‘yes’ to allowing him to enter into the messy, weed-filled rooms of our hearts so that he can help us pick the different weeds that grow within us all? What if he wants to be the one to redeem our Grinch-like hearts, to help them grow in size, and to teach them how to love once again? That is what he wants, friends. He just wants us to say yes. He just wants us.
So even though I am not feeling very joyful right now, I am seeking solace in knowing that Christ just wants my ‘yes’ this Christmas. For he is a humble, patient God who was willing to make himself small, as small as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem, in order to prove just how great his love is for us. And I am grateful to begin this new year with this kind of love at my side.
Christ came for those with room in their hearts and for those who, like me, felt unprepared to invite him inside. Let us try to recognize* what is filling the rooms of our hearts so that we may feel more inclined to open the door and answer with a genuine ‘yes’ when he, once again, asks if he may be invited inside.
Praying for you all through the remainder of this Christmas season, and as we start of this new year,
*One good way to recognize these weeds is to do a daily examen or to go to confession!