A few days ago, my mom and I were playing a game and talking about 2017. It’s been a tough year. But rather than dwell on all the hard things, we chatted about what we were thankful for. Our lists weren’t long, but they were meaningful. Friends, family, some health issues hopefully resolved. New challenges and experiences.
When we were done, we talked about the one thing we would change about the year, whether it was an experience, circumstance, or disposition. I told my mom I would take back all the time and emotion I wasted on things that didn’t matter.
2017 feels like the year of wasted emotion. If everything is always terrible, what is truly awful? If I am always the victim of something, when will I ever recognize that I might be the bully? If I am always right, first, most, and loudest, how will I ever learn to be wrong, last, least, and quiet?
Those were questions I had to face about myself this year. It was apt that my word for the year was fear. It reared its ugly head in the darkest corners of my heart. Fear lit my insecurity on fire like a wick in a lantern and tried to use that lantern to burn down the whole house. Fear screamed in the face of Truth. It lied and choked and attempted to sever ties and relationships that are dearest in my life.
I almost let it. There were moments, shuddering breaths of air released from aching lungs that felt like a decision. A change. My legs wanted to run. My brain screamed for vindication. My heart throbbed with imagined and real hurt. But my spirit? It whispered. Soft words of divine Truth in the deepest, darkest corners of my whole being.
This Truth I faced was ugly and scarred. It was marred by jealousy and insecurity and the unknown. Competition and fear of not being enough or the right person or saying the right thing governed me. Dominated me. And nearly entirely overcame me. Truth exposed these things about me. It held up the mirror to the darkness within and showed me what I am.
The beautiful thing about Truth is that it doesn’t just show you what you are. Or merely expose you and walk away. Facts do. Facts lay down the state of affairs. But Truth? Truth boldly shows you the darkness of you, and then, if you will let it, shows you the way to life.
There isn’t a lot about 2017 I hold in fondness, except this. I learned this year, through things I would instead not remember, that Truth is more than being on the “right side” or being the one with the moral upper hand. Truth is a person. Truth is Jesus. And He shows me all that I am without Him. Then, as I stand among the broken shards of my illusions about me, He shows me Himself.
As I contemplate Christmas, the birth of Truth, I see the manger in the forefront, but the cross looms over it all. While the birth of Jesus is cause for celebration, that joy must always be slivered with grief. For we are the reason, Jesus had to come. Sin, darkness, our nature put Jesus upon His cross. He submitted to the will of the Father in death that we might know Him and be born again.
In the person of Jesus, His cross, and His resurrection, a thrill of hope is born in a weary and dying world. The way has been made, and the opportunity to leave the darkness and to walk into His glorious light is put before us. Christmas is but the beginning.