My December has been quiet. It has looked different than I would have worked so hard to create in previous years. I have realized that our Christmas memories are begging to be filled with meaning and not activity. We have kept it simple, some by choice and some by necessity. Aside from a weekend with work responsibilities, we have not really done much outside of our home that is Christmas related. We decided to brave the mall last weekend on a Sunday afternoon after naptime to shop for my niece’s Christmas present. Anyone I have told this story to looks at me like I am crazy for going to the mall on a Sunday afternoon. The chaos of walking into the mall gradually mounted as we made our way toward the Build-A-Bear store on the first floor. As we walked towards the store, I noticed a line of people and looked up to see the sign that welcomed them to Santa’s Wonderland. My mind quickly ran through all the possible scenarios that pointing out this wonderland might create and so I continued to steer my crew towards the store for task at hand. For us, one activity was more than enough and although I would love to have a picture of my boys with Santa, I knew that it would be too much. You see, I’ve learned some things about myself this year and even more about my son.
There is a rest in my soul that has developed over the past six months as we have embraced and accepted the reality of living with a son with anxiety and Aspergers. I am learning how to care for my family in new and necessary ways that feel contradictory to the pace that I had once known. On most days, I am at peace with the change but there are moments when I start to compare my life and Christmas seems like it brings a wide variety of opportunities.
Our life is routine and in the routine, my husband and I find ourselves alone at night after the boys have gone to bed. We recently starting watching NBC’s Parenthood on Netflix after hearing multiple recommendations for the show. In the first season of the show, one of the families is receiving the news that their young son has Aspergers. I laughed and I cried that first night and I knew immediately that I would be hooked. This family’s story is intermingled with the real, messy, beautiful chaos of the extended family and I absolutely love the show. I cannot tell you how much we are able to relate to this family. There are nights when I just want tell all our friends and family to watch a certain episode so that they can see what I feel. Not every emotion expressed is what I feel but then there are those moments when someone puts words to the ache in my heart and the joy in my heart, and I am not so alone. The other night, as I was resting on the couch, watching my show with the glow of the Christmas tree in the background and a glass of wine in my hand, I smiled and let the tears run down my cheeks. I could feel His presence in such real and tangible ways as I related to the characters on my TV and I knew that God was with me.
God with us. Immanuel. Jesus came to bring the presence of God into our world. I know it may sound a little silly to say that I could feel his presence with me while watching a TV show but I think that’s exactly what it means to have God with us in our world.
He came to bring the presence of God into our world, not just at Christmas but always. Always. Where do you feel the presence of God in your world? Christmas is a beautiful time to celebrate the birth of Jesus who came as a vulnerable baby to be with us. We’ve spent an entire month preparing for His coming and He is here. As Christmas comes to a close, and the constant reminders of His presence fade away will you choose to live present as you remember Immanuel, God is with us, always. In all things.
Bethany Cabell is a Texas transplant, residing in Michigan with her husband and their two young boys. A lover of beauty, she lives life chasing after wide-open spaces: sharing her heart with others, in relationship with Jesus, and through music and photography. She tells her story here.