This past advent season had me reflecting quite a bit more than it usually does. I felt like this past year was the year that I would actually acknowledge that the Christmas season is much much more than just a season filled with spirit lifting Christmas music, pumpkin spice and eggnog flavored everything, and a time to load up on nice presents that would bring a smile to my family and friends faces. My effort was put primarily into reading The Advent of Christ by Edward Sri. This book was filled with daily scripture reflections meant to help prepare for Christmas. Though I have to admit that I did not make it entirely to the end (allowing my own personal distractions to get the better of me), I have to say that it was a great way to keep my mind attune to what the Christmas season is really all about—i.e. Christ!
One of the major things that has been on my mind (which you can tell from almost all of my posts and the name of this blog) is love. While it may be that I am at a point in my life when I am overcome with love and happiness that has led me to think about it so much, I still think that love is always an important thing to discuss in depth.
Christmas calls us to remember and celebrate the birth of the Christ child. It is a time for us to reflect on the fact that God sent his only son to us, for the benefit of all mankind, and he sent him in the form of a sweet babe. A baby! This really is an incredible thing to think about. Our Savior came into the world in the form of a tiny little baby. Just. Like. Us.
This fact of course leads me, as a new mother, to reflect on the beauty that babies teach us in their innocence. Daily I am learning what it means to put the self behind and to serve. In our modern world, this of course sounds like an unappealing way to live. I can see how being tired, unable to really have a whole lot of “me” time, and being quite stinky at times can sound unappealing, but I will also add that this is the most fulfilled I have ever felt in my life.
It is a crazy thing to transition into—the fact that some little being relies on you for everything. My son cannot feed himself, clothe himself, bathe himself, or change himself. He needs me. He needs his daddy. He needs someone to be there for him to meet all of his needs. Not only that, but he needs someone to care enough to love him and be patient while meeting those needs.
This is the message that Christ sends us throughout his whole mission: “Love one another, as I have loved you.”
It’s crazy that even in the Christmas season, the time we should be reflecting on the greatest moment in history, how we are being told even more so than any other time to serve ourselves. Commercials are now littered with the message of treating yourself the way you think you deserve. It’s like they are re-writing the Golden Rule! Instead of focusing on loving others the way that we would like to be loved, society is now nixing the others and saying, “Just go ahead and love yourself! You know what you deserve!”
How sad. How sad is it that we live in a world that promotes self-love over love-of-neighbor.
I recently watched “Marvin’s Room” with Diane Keaton and the great Meryl Streep. The movie was about a woman (Keaton) who had cancer, and in the end she learns that the disease is terminal. Though she finds this out, she has the following conversation with her sister and is moved to tears:
Bessie: Oh, Lee, I’ve been so lucky. I’ve been so lucky to have Dad and Ruth. I’ve had such love in my life. You know, I look back, and I’ve had such… such love.
Lee: They love you very much.
Bessie: No, that’s not what I mean. No, no… I mean that I love them. I’ve been so lucky to have been able to love someone so much.
While I was watching this, I was reminded again the beauty in dying to self. It is in loving others that we find fulfillment. I like to think that is Christ’s prize in the cracker-jack box that is his beautiful message. It is the secret ellipsis in his message that our world will not experience until they embrace the first half: “Love others as you do yourself…and you will find happiness. You will find peace.”
We cannot find true and lasting happiness in serving ourselves. We must turn outward towards our families, neighbors and friends, and love.
Thanks for reading!