Lately I have been going to church here:
They're little gimmicky but the music is better than where I had been going and it's kind of like a nightclub. They're relevant, younger, and have both the notes and the taped sermons online. Today's message was that Christmas is a battle and that Dear-Lord-baby-Jesus' birth was an invasion. *I was hooked* Apparently he was brought here to 'destroy the works of the devil'. Neat-o. I never had actually thought of that. I also liked that the pastor highlighted that, as any parent knows, it couldn't have been a Silent Night. A-men! I was all ears!
This time of year Christmas seems saccharine-y to me. Perfect lights, music, nativity sets, ornaments, potpourri, confections and gifts and coated in the vapid veneer of holiday-ness, family-ness, together-ness. Blech cubed. Neither Christmas nor Thanksgiving are my favorite holidays because of this pressure/expectation. I also dislike that anyone who can will capitalize on it. Deck *this* baby. "Peace on Earth" remains a notion. Come on. My favorite holiday is July 4th, thank you for asking, because it's warm, there are fireworks, and you can afford to see the people you really want to see and you don't feel obligated to gift them a crapton of chotchkes.
Originally I was going to write about how the holidays are linked with an increase in suicide rates but see here:
So most suicidals seem to agree that "It's a Wonderful Life" at least enough around the holidays to wait and kill themselves in the Spring or August. Wow, super great.
Flippancy aside, I have been chewing through parts of the Bible for a while and trying to understand more of Christianity and what it means to believe in -and live a life led by- the Dear-Lord-baby-Jesus aside from what I was taught, and memorized, and recited as a child. I am still working through most of this but I know for certain that there is an Enemy. I have felt this in the middle of the night, all alone, in metaphorical darkness. I have been sleepless and paranoid and scared. I have tried to numb the pain in the hopes to ignore it even in the middle of the day. I have felt my soul die. I have been left. I have wounded people I loved with my words and actions. I have felt empty. I haven't even felt. In a liquid haze of pity I triggered the snare of self-hate and regret for 10 years.
I don't think I was ever more vulnerable and alone than when I was pregnant. Liquid-pity-party no more. Those 10 months have been the most challenging of my life. While other moms and dads cheerily registered at Babies R Us for their firstborn, I was there alone. I cringe when I enter the super-cooled warehouse now because it holds such a painful physical memory. While other parents read pregnancy books and attended classes together hand-in-hand, I was alone. I have happily given away or sold everything my baby girl no longer needs because I remember the solitude with which we acquired the objects. I also know we won't be needing them in the future. While other couples were reveling in watching their unborn move and spin and dance in utero behind a curtain of skin to a celestial soundtrack, I worried alone at night in an empty bed if everything with her was going to be ok.
Now y'all know I ain't gonna do anything crazy. I simply want to illustrate how terrifying and isolating pregnancy, birth and motherhood can be for some of us. Giving birth in a barn with a husband, 3 wise men, some animals and angels sounds a'ight to me. Partay. Having an army of angels or the 'armies of heaven' at your side also sounds pretty cool. I think the Christmas story is universal because even if you're not a Christian, you can see and believe in the miracle of birth. But even more universal is the battle between good and evil, light and dark, life and death. THIS is the Christmas story I like. That a newborn was destined to become a warrior and fight the battle for our souls?! Radical. Is there a song about that?