Ahhh, here it is…the day after.
Adulthood consists mostly of three things, I think: paying bills, keeping your mouth shut, and grappling with the day after.
With Christmas behind us, there is now a comedown. Family is gone, the tree and wrapping paper have mutated from colorful expectation to
trash recycling fodder, and now we have to confront just how much the entire affair has strained our waistlines and credit cards.
If you’re don’t struggle with this “day after”, I’m certainly happy for you. Certainly, there’s some relief in escaping the pressure of busyness and getting to unwrap that “peace and quiet” present we wanted most of all. But for others of us, there is, I think, an odd letdown. A crash back to earth. If it hasn’t come already, it might still, once the last of the family has hopped in the van and left, or once New Year’s is past.
When it comes to storytelling, the writers of Lost have nothing on our Lord. He weaves hints, parallels, symbolism, foreshadowings, and callbacks throughout his narrative with the skill of a master. So exciting.
I have no words. Just watch.
In the vein of “Kids Say the Darndest Things”, the following is a series of quotes lifted directly from the four years of math class I taught, grades 7-12.
Student #1: “Mr. Adams, do you have any siblings?”
Me: “Yes, a younger brother.”
Student #2: “Did he turn out better?”
Me: “So, any material from your math class that you’ve been struggling with?
Student: “Not really.”
Me: “Nothing that you’ve found annoying lately?”
Student: “Just you.”
Student: “You’re mean, Mr. Adams.”
Me: “I’m not mean. I just have expectations for you, including doing work.” Student: “That’s how you’re mean.”
Me: “Well, I’m not sure what I can do about that.”
Student: “You could quit your job.”
Student #1: “Mr. Adams, why do some people laugh at funerals?”
Me: “Maybe the deceased person wants their loved ones to be happy even at their funeral. I would.”
Student #2: “I’m going to dance on your grave, does that count?”
It was during a December that my family fell apart.
I do appreciate that the blow had enough grace to wait until the 27th before coming out of nowhere, but is there really ever a “good time” for such things to happen?
Anything that’s ever harmed family tends to feel highlighted, called out, by the approach of Christmas. The season has a way of reminding you of what you’ve lost (or never had to begin with). I know what it’s like to rely on the charity and love of non-family during the holidays (for which I’m very grateful), to struggle with the emotions, to feel left out of the joy because you’re dealing with things that (it seems like) nobody else is.
So I’m the last person to tell anyone to “just get over it and celebrate”.
That’s not my approach at all. The Bible defends, even celebrates, our grace-given ability to honestly approach the throne of God with our pain, fear, and disappointment. Psalms is full of it. Jeremiah vents to God even though he knows exactly why God is inflicting his nation. Even Jesus does not try to hide his sweat and blood from his Father. He cares about our hearts. He has big shoulders. He will always listen to our tears.
Sometimes, I think, there are days when a swift kick in my own butt really is warranted.
The lesson of Matthew 14:22-33 should be rote for us by now. Peter sees Jesus walking on the water, gets out of the boat, and walks out to meet him – until he starts paying more attention to the waves instead of Jesus. That’s when he starts to sink.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, the lesson teaches us (echoed by Hebrews 12:1), and not on the wind and waves of your circumstances.
Unfortunately, we’re all still rather bad at it.
Sometimes I wonder if that’s because we don’t realize all the many forms that “looking at the waves” can take.