Finding Christ in the Transition Times
Twinkling lights, hot cups of cocoa, Christmas caroling around the town, and the reading of the Christmas story by a crackling fire—there's something heart warming about the traditions of celebrating the birth of Jesus each December. As soon as the weather starts getting cold, our hearts begin preparing for the new season. However, it is easy to quickly become overwhelmed with holiday preparations and festivities that, by December 26th, we wake up and realize we missed what Christmas is all about. We focused on the planning, the giving, the cooking, the traveling, and the shopping, that we missed simply being, rejoicing, and worshiping.
Growing up in a Christian home with family spread across the United States, each Christmas was different. We traveled to different places, visited family members, and rarely were in our own home on Christmas morning. For a girl who loves traditions and wanted some sort of consistency, God began to teach me the joy of the "non-traditions"—celebrating the constant Savior even though we couldn't have constant traditions. In the midst of our ever-changing Christmas plans and locations, the reason we celebrated never changed, making us worship the Creator and not the tradition.
It wasn't until high school that this idea truly made sense in my heart. My family was going through a financial struggle that year and my parents told us that we wouldn't be doing presents that year. I love the joy of giving gifts as well as receiving them and took this news in a hard way. I'll never forget the feeling of waking up Christmas morning to a present-less tree. Instead of experiencing a feeling of emptiness, we all got a glimpse of the joy of Christ. We didn't need presents to celebrate, we needed Him. My dad read Luke 2:1-22 to us, and the words sunk deep into my heart. That day was filled with a sweet rejoicing, and December 26th felt exactly the same. There was no disappointment after the gifts had been opened because we had received the greatest gift we could—the treasure of celebrating Jesus and not what we could bring ourselves.
That Christmas forever changed my family. As non-traditional as it was, we tasted of God's goodness that year. I have now been married to my husband for two years, and we still carry on the same "non-traditional" lifestyle. We live far from our family and have to travel at each holiday. Each year Christmas looks completely different. We haven't been able to create our own "Saffles family traditions" (something I had hoped I would do when I got married), but we have been able to grasp the stability of Christ even when our circumstances constantly change. What I have learned in this season of our marriage is that, though traditions may bring a sense of normalcy and comfort, finding the joy and peace of Christ in constantly changing situations helps us see the beauty of the gospel fresh each Christmas.
We celebrate no matter where God places us and worship in the season He has us in. Because Christ holds our life together, we can worship Him even in our non-traditional Christmas. (Colossians 1:17) We can have joy in all of the changes. And we can taste God's goodness even when our meals might change each year. Next Christmas we will celebrate three years together and will also have our first child with us. I have no doubt that it will be as non-traditional as it can be as we travel to visit family and take care of our little one, but I have complete confidence that God will meet us and show us His infinite love along the way.
For those of you who are in the same transitional state of life, I pray that you will find comfort in the constancy of Christ. Even when you long for some sort of tradition and repetition in your holidays but can't have that due to circumstances, I pray that you would focus your heart back on the humble birth of Jesus. He was born in the most unlikely of places to the most unlikely of parents. His head lay in a manger the night of his birth, not a comfortable, royal bed. Mary and Joseph didn't have the comfort of family being present or fine food at their fingertips. Instead, they met the glory of God in their unlikely, holy moment. I have no doubt that God will do the same for us.
Luke 2:19 tells us that Mary "treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." She didn't complain about her unlikely, not-so-perfect circumstance of giving birth to the Savior of the world in that moment. Instead, she worshiped by thinking about Him and all He had done. She treasured Christ fully. This is what we are to do each Christmas. Treasure the wonder of the Savior's love. Worship wholeheartedly. And rejoice with great confidence. Come, let us adore Him, no matter where you are or what you are doing, because He is Christ the Lord.
Gretchen is a follower of Jesus and lover of His creation. She is married to her best friend, Greg, and they live in the beautiful Knoxville, Tennessee. She began Life Lived Beautifully, a ministry to inspire women to live their lives for the glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that fills us up to overflow onto the world around us. She loves drinking coffee with friends, exploring God’s creation and adventuring the world in the name of Jesus. The more she learns that life isn’t about her, but about making much of Jesus, the more she understands the beauty of the Gospel. More of Him, less of her. That is what a life lived beautifully is all about.
Tiffany is a recovering workaholic, transitioning out of a full time business owner, in hopes to use her passion for design to bring others to Christ. You can follow Tiffany’s journey on Instagram at @tiffwebster