She Keeps Showing Up

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P_Kathy

There’s a lot to love about Christmas. I love traditions. I love the wild and hard to get your head around upside-down-ness of the Christmas Story—God as a little human baby, not born in a palace or a place of comfort but in a dirty, smelly stable.

The waiting of advent.

Hope born out of patience and not knowing the end of the story.

Jesus breaking through into the world, bringing a new reality.

But regardless of how much there is to appreciate about this time of year, the truth is many of us deeply struggle with the holidays. The time from Thanksgiving to Christmas can be like a big black hole, stirring up so many feelings of loneliness, confusion, and pain.

The reality of broken families.

A fragile faith that’s hanging on by a thread.

Unmet desire for children and a spouse that roars this time of year.

A reminder of loss of certain relationships.

Stress about rent and money and how little there is.

An “I’m not valuable” feeling that can’t be shaken.

The list is much longer than this, and it pulls away the joy and hope of Christmas. It makes some of us want to run for the hills instead of sing fa-la-la. It cuts deep into abandonment wounds and makes everything inside us scream, “Hide, protect, shut-down.”

But here’s what’s amazing.

Every year, I see people around me showing up and trying to stay in on Christmas even when it hurts.

My one friend Samantha* is the best example of this. With no living parents and a deep desire for a partner and kids, she would gladly hibernate the entire month of December and wake up on January 1st, ready to re-engage.

Despite her instinct to hide and shut down, she keeps showing up.

She keeps staying in as honestly as she can—sharing her real feelings, but also not letting her real feelings consume her.

She makes plans with safe friends.

She finds ways to take good care of her soul in the midst.

She talks honestly about her desire.

She cries herself to sleep but gets up the next day, wipes the tears off her cheeks and goes to work to help other people.

Yeah, she keeps showing up.

It’s so beautiful, so brave.

And I can’t help but think it is the Christmas story.

A story that doesn’t make sense.

A story we want to make clean and neat and tidy and simple, but is actually a big hot mess like most of our lives.

A story that keeps pointing us toward hope.

That there’s more than meets the eye.

That God is at work underneath the pain and the suffering and the ways-life-isn’t-at-all-what-we-expected.

That’s what my courageous, tenacious friend Samantha is teaching me this Advent.

Even when it hurts, keep showing up.

_____________

*not her real name

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Kathy Escobar
Kathy Escobar co-pastors The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver. A trained spiritual director, speaker, and advocate, she also blogs regularly about life and faith at kathyescobar.com and is the author of Faith Shift and Down We Go—Living out the Wild Ways of Jesus. A mom of 5 young adults and teens, she is married to Jose and lives in Arvada, Colorado.
Kathy Escobar

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  • I find myself in a similar place this Advent–just struggling to show up, I mean–so thanks so much for this. Just hearing others talk about it makes it that much easier to admit this is how I feel, and it’s okay to acknowledge that but also okay to do Advent things. Blessings this Advent!

    • so glad it resonated and i love that we can show up and participate and struggle at the same time….peace to you!

  • Yes! Christmas does have a way of magnifying all that is wrong with our lives, and I’m thankful that you’ve given your words as a badge of honor to those (like your friend) who are openly and honestly struggling. In our hearts we are all in a position of waiting for the “dear Desire of every nation” — most of us just have all the noise of life turned up so loudly that it masks the roar of grief.

    • what a great line: “most of us just have all the noise of life turned up so loudly that it masks the roar of grief.” that is so powerful and true…

  • HBurns

    I can’t tell you just how much I love this post…. so hope-filled and so real. Thank you xo

    • thanks for taking time to share. it always means a lot to me.

  • Sandy Hay

    A God at work story. Thank you Kathy.

    • yes, God is definitely at work in so many amazing, simple, beautiful ways in people’s lives…

  • cjdeboer

    SO beautiful, Kathy. And a comfort to many – thank you.

    • thanks for taking time to share. peace from colorado…

  • Mary Gemmill

    that both comforted me and gave me a kick in the pants to stop feeling sorry for myself and get on and show some courage and fortitude as this woman does…oh how brave she is !

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