Love in a Manger

Love in a Manger December 21, 2015

I have a really huge issue with being a mom and step-mom. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m a selfish person or if I’m a selfish person because I grew up an only child with no concept of living with groups of people and resolving conflict with them but I have an extremely hard time living in a house with a big family.

I have a lot of cousins who I lived with and around when I was a teenager and I have a lot of great memories with them but in the end I had to go be by myself in my room with my books and music. It’s how I have always comforted myself (Except for that brief time when I comforted myself with Grey Goose when the books and music didn’t work) so now that I live in a house with 6 other human beings, 3 who I didn’t make and give birth to or raise, I’m having issues.

Advent is exhausting. It’s more like Lent than Advent.

I have written and re-written this post 10 times for the last three days because I don’t really know how exactly to say this four days before Christmas, but there is no other way to say it than to just say it….. I have a really hard time loving my kids and step-kids. They drain me. They suck the life right out of me. I have to drive them all over the place, like school and work and then therapy. Just as I sit down to write, someone needs something from me. All of the people who live in this house with me have their own issues. Issues that all set off my anger and codependency. There’s the hoarding, the OCD, the ADD, the one kid with their own codependency issues, the same sex attracted child and the one that keeps getting arrested, plus my husband with PTSD. Oh, does that sound like a house full of crazy people? Well, I assure you that they are fine, it’s me that is crazy because I think that I have to fix them all. ALL OF THEM.

And there is the conflict. I don’t want to fix them, but I feel the need to fix them. Not so that they can be healthy and lead successful lives, but so that they don’t need anything from me. That is never going to happen, I realize this…. so I just lay in bed crying about how hard it is to love these people because I really just want to sit with my books and music and not have anyone need anything from me. Not because they are making outrageous demands on me, but because I am a selfish jerk who was raised without brothers or sisters to punch me in the face when I wanted my own way.

I look at the Baby Jesus in the manger and realize just how hard it must have been for Him to be God and become man, but not a grown man either but a newborn baby who was dependent on two human beings, who He made, to care for Him. Do you realize what a crap shoot that was? Sure He’s God, but really, He must have been a little scared. I’m scared to depend on other people for anything. We are not the most reliable creatures.

God humbled Himself and became man. He lowered Himself and raised man up. That is what Christmas is all about. I keep hearing people talk about the Christmas spirit being about giving, kindness and such. Well, yeah, kind of, but really it’s about the kindness of God. Jesus is a human, flesh and blood reminder of His love for us.

Love is more than just a feeling. It is a choice to desire the good of another and act accordingly with that desire, even when it feels like that is sucking the life out of you. Love does not always feel good. In fact, a lot of times it feels horrible. It feels like six other human beings wanting and wanting from you when you have nothing to give them. Love is how (right when you are about to jump out the window) your husband shows up with a bottle of wine and you can keep giving. (Don’t judge me; you keep going however works for you, wine works for me. It worked for Jesus too.)

In that manger we see what love is. It is humbling, it is scary, it is stressful, it is messy and it is attractive. God humbled Himself to be born in a manger. Joseph and Mary were stressed out about where they were going to deliver this Child and a barn isn’t exactly clean, yet it attracted the shepherds and wise men. Not to mention the choirs of angels who sang the praise of Jesus. Jesus is the Love of God made flesh.

What gets me through Advents that are more like Lent is that Love in a Manger; Love that came so that a selfish sinner like me can have a chance to become holy. The birth of Christ is an example that the love I have for my children may not always feel great, it may be humbling, scary, stressful and messy, but it is still real.


The nativity at my Parish.
The nativity at my Parish.

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