It started out with lovely intentions: my vision for Christmas this year. Because there really isn’t another time of the year that prods my desire for perfection more than the holidays.
Perfectly wrapped gifts. Perfectly decorated tree. Perfect plans to partake in all of the holiday festivities. Perfect family pictures for the Christmas cards. Perfect menu for family dinner on Christmas Eve. Oh and don’t forget all those perfect posts on social media to show the world that for this season…you lack nothing. Everything is perfect.
Except that it isn’t.
Packages aren’t being delivered on time. In some instances, they aren’t even delivered to the right house (shout out to the kind stranger-neighbor who called to tell me she had my box of Christmas gifts on her front porch across town). The stacks of gifts that have been delivered probably won’t be wrapped until I stay up late on Christmas Eve. The tree is dying because I forgot to water it for a week when my husband was out of town. I am missing a small-town Christmas parade with my extended family today because we can’t be in two places at the same time. My Christmas card pics actually are pretty cute, but they’ve been sitting on my kitchen counter waiting to be mailed…for two weeks. And our family Christmas Eve meal??? I have no idea. I haven’t made a decent trip to the grocery store in a month.
And then I think about family and friends who are fighting the hard stuff this season. Chronic pain. Chemotherapy. Change that you can’t resist. Lost jobs. Lost lives. Broken marriages. Bills that need to be paid. In-conquerable to-do lists.
The human experience is an experiment in imperfection.
And then into the imperfect, a whisper: Jesus.
A young girl from the wrong side of town as His mother with what appeared to be a scandalous pregnancy. Sore feet and hungry bellies on a long and difficult journey to satisfy the government’s demand for a census. A filthy stable under the night air for the nursery and a feeding trough for His bed. Strips of linen, not robes of silk, would clothe Him. An earthly king with murderous intentions. A nation that was expecting a political hero, but got a baby instead.
There was nothing perfect about the Christmas story. But into the chaos, God spoke peace. Of all the times and places Jesus could have chosen for His grand entrance, He chose the imperfect. He wasn’t looking for the pretty. He wasn’t looking for the things that made sense. He was looking for the places that were lacking.
And He looks for the same today.
In our striving for the perfect Christmas season, have we forgotten that God is looking for the imperfect? Jesus came for the broken. He came for the lost. He came for the imperfect, the dysfunctional, and the hopeless. If we want to seek Him earnestly this season, we don’t have to look very far. We just need to look for our own humanity. This is exactly where God intends to bring peace.
Search for the places in your life that are radiating with imperfection and the impossible. Jesus won’t be in the pristine, He’ll be right beside you in the dirt. But the good news is that He has no intention of leaving you there. Hear His words about why the earth first heard the sound of His voice in the cry of a newborn baby:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim the good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
Good news and freedom and recovery and favor. It’s a far cry from the imperfect that surrounds us, but it’s exactly the promise that is delivered with the hope of Christmas. If nothing about this season feels perfect or possible, take comfort in the knowledge that this is exactly why Jesus has come. For you. For the imperfect. For the impossible.
Embrace the imperfect in your life this Christmas season; that’s exactly where you will find Jesus waiting for you. May you know His peace in the imperfect today and may you trust that His freedom is on the way.