Red Vine Spirituality

Taylor K. Arthur balances Bipolar 1 Disorder, marriage, and motherhood with a nitty-gritty faith inspiring a twisted, blissful life.

Christmas Takes Guts

Happy Advent, Friends! Today I’m thinking a lot about Christmas, and how much courage it takes to birth our God-like dreams.

It’s Saturday morning, and I am stalled in my elf activities as the oven cleans itself. What a funny sentence. I’m thinking through all the things I have to tell you, none of which have seemed very important. I apologize for my lack of posting lately.

Since last February, my life has changed dramatically. My assignment was public, and very specific. But there was no map. God didn’t say “Go here,” or “talk to that person,” or “here’s the timeline.” Instead, I walked out of that holy place, that holy moment, without any idea of how or what to do. Except, I knew I was supposed to finish my book.

I took a couple of months just to rearrange my life to make time for this endeavor. I hired a housekeeper–something I’m still not sure makes a lot of sense financially–to carve time out of my schedule to write. I stopped hosting friends in our home as often. I used/use every drop of time to work. It has felt awkward and wrong, like I am walking out on my life. I haven’t known if this is even right, if this is what God meant? But I keep trying, and I ask him to let me know if I’m going in a direction that He didn’t mean for me.

My brain craves a black and white certainty that I have not felt as I have stepped forward into this adventure. I feel surrounded by the blackest night, and have moved through most of 2015 in a drowning depression. But I am learning more and more that how I feel: small or broken, insignificant or lost, genius or foolish, certain or flailing, doesn’t really matter. What matters in obedience is the physical act of one foot forward. then, another foot. then, another. No matter what. No matter who judges or stops calling or freaks out. No matter who doesn’t understand. Because this walk is between me and God. I know what He wants me to do. And by goodness, I’m going to do it.

I’m reading Liz Curtis Higgs’ The Women of Christmas right now, and I can’t help but think one thought over and over again: Christmas takes guts. The more I learn about Elizabeth and Mary, the more I realize that the journey of faith is never black and white. It’s this moment of perfect clarity that changes you forever, that propels you forward. This clarity changes your focus from what people say to what you know to be the truth.

When we sign up for a faith journey, we’re not given the physical blacks and whites of certainty anymore. Instead, we’re given the Holy Spirit to open doors along the way. And it’s never clear or neat or scripted. It’s breath to breath, prayer to prayer, step after step.

If you find yourself not knowing what to do this Christmas about family, about where to go on what day and what to say no to, about not having enough or about who to give your extras to, do three things to find your way:

Pray: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

Believe: That God will make the way known to you, “For nothing will be impossible with God”(Luke 1:37).

Finally, put one foot in front of the other. Walk. Walk in the footsteps of a teenaged girl who gave birth to a Savior, in the footsteps of her barren aunt who had given up on miracles. Walk in the trail of doubt beat down by Abram and Sarai, who had left all they knew to travel to an unknown land only because God had told them to. Just walk.

It’s not an easy way to live, and it’s not safe. Lord, it’s downright dangerous to follow Jesus! And you may well feel like an idiot flailing about in the darkness waiting for the next open door. But tell this to yourself again and again:

Christmas takes guts. Birthing takes mettle. And right towards the end of the journey, the delivery, is when things can seem darkest.

Ah, but come Christmas morning? When we hold our miracle and see Him: Hope in humanity, Redemption in the darkest night? When we huddle close around His Love’s fire?

Then we will know clarity in full, friends. And we will smile as we sip our hot chocolate and wink at each other because we’ve lived out the journey to Bethlehem and the search for the inn and the desperate needs of hunger and labor and warmth.

We’ll whisper under our breaths, “This took guts.”

And we’ll shout loud, “But He got us here.”

2 Comments

  1. The title of this post drew me in. Thanks for your encouragement. I don’t have hope of any sort of delivery except when I cross over to see Jesus and that is assumed to be a long ways off. But these last 2 months have kept getting darker and this month is usually hard. I’ll try to carry you in my pocket that ‘it takes guts.’

    • Jm, I know about the months getting darker. Have you read “The Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp? If not, order it right away! It is so much more than a Christmas devotional . . . it helps keep the darkness at bay. Take care of yourself this Christmas, and remember that you are loved.

      Love,
      Taylor

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