Fluffy Christianity gives me the creeps. I sometimes wonder how people can just pretend that everything is ok and not really stand in the reality of horror. Like when these kinds of Christians look at pictures of the Holocaust or the Rwanda genocide or some other tragedy do they say “well, God has a plan” and then go on with their lives? Part of the Christian faith is taking time to stand in the horror of sin.
Advent is one of those times. It is not horrible that God became man but dude, GOD BECAME MAN and was born and put in a feeding bin for animals. Fr. J gave a homily one year where he explained that putting the baby Jesus, who is God, in that trough was like placing him in the dog’s water bowl. That is pretty awful. The suffering of Our Lady and Joseph on that trip was not the kind of suffering that Christmas songs are made of. But fluffy Christianity has made that a thing. “Mary did you know”, Um, yes, she knew and it all sucked. That is what makes her faith so amazing, she knew and it sucked and she said yes to it all anyway, even the parts she later figured out. Even at the foot of the Cross.
Maybe I need to have more compassion and mercy for those who can’t bear to look at the reality of awful suffering. But honestly, I am so angry that anyone who faces suffering in reality, which is that it sucks, is treated like they are lacking in faith, when the truth is that Mary and Joseph and God live in reality, even when it is horrible. It is not a made up story to make everything nice and fluffy. It is the story of salvation and it is hard, it sucks, it involves suffering and it is rooted in reality not make believe.
My reality is that I do not know where my son is. He is dead. His body is in a grave and I am here with my heart breaking in new ways every single day. I have joy, happiness and so many blessings. I know God is real and that He walks with me. That the birth of Jesus is a sign of hope, joy and suffering all at the same time. That salvation comes with a price. Reality is knowing that horrible things happen all the time to all kinds of people for no reason other than sin lives in this world. And it sucks. That is it. There is no “it sucks but God has a plan”. For some of us it just stops and “it sucks”. That isn’t a lack of faith. Do you know how much faith it takes to get up and go to mass when the sentence stops at “it sucks”? How much faith it takes to pray and not hate God for not saving your son when you do not go on to say “I know he is in heaven?” because you don’t know that at all? How much faith it takes to kneel in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and love Him even though you really wish life wasn’t so hard and you have no idea why yours is and horrible people’s lives are easy? Trust me, there is no lack of faith in saying things really do suck and still living out a Christian faith. It takes more faith than anyone can imagine to do that.
Advent is when I can finally just sit in my space and hold on to the hope, love, joy, and suffering of the expectation of the birth of Jesus. Here, I do not have to be anything but me. A mother with a pierced heart whose hope is rooted in a tiny baby Who is God.