I’ve always loved Advent. Church at Christmastime has always been my favorite. I love the Bible passages predicting the Messiah. I love the Advent wreath. I love singing Christmas Carols, especially “Silent Night.” Most of all, I love the Christmas story.
“[Joseph] went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2: 5-7, NSRV
As many pastors have pointed out over the years, Jesus was born in a barn. Surrounded by animals. To an unwed teenage girl. With only dirty shepherds to celebrate his birth.
Mary didn’t have her mother to hold her hand, or an epidural, or sanitary conditions, or even a midwife. Mary had nothing but her fiancé Joseph and her faith in God.
God chose the insignificant Virgin Mary to give birth to the Son of God, under the humblest of conditions. To this day, the Church recognizes humility as an admirable trait to embody.
Confession: I am not humble. Not in the slightest. I am proud, and independent, and sometimes even vain. Not only am I immodest, but I am unabashedly so.
I struggle to be emotionally vulnerable. I hate crying, especially in front of anyone else. I hate admitting to myself I need help, and I feel like a failure when I ask for it. I have to be in a lot of pain before I confess, “I’m not feeling well,” and I bottle up my fears about my Crohn’s getting worse rather than share them with anyone.
The last eight weeks or so have been really hard for me. First I had to find a new apartment. I lost out on the first one I wanted, but luckily I was able to snag my second choice. A full 40% of my monthly income went towards my security deposit. Then my car died one morning on the way to work. Two towings and two inspections later, my credit card suffered $400 that I couldn’t afford, with the worst prognosis: my car needed a new engine. Everyone had advice for me as I decided between buying a junker, a nice used car, a basic new car, or just leasing a car. Which was fine and dandy until my boyfriend and I took a hard look at my finances and realized that even with the tightest of budgets, I could barely afford car insurance, let alone a car payment. Meanwhile, I completely lost my appetite, and anything other than carbs or hot tea made me nauseous. My new jeans, purchased in September, already a smidgen loose, became loose enough that I needed a belt to hold them up. I was losing weight against my will, and I was—I am—terrified that I won’t be able to gain it back. I also co-hosted a Christmas party and endeavored to make nice-ish Christmas presents for the boyfriend, his family, and my family. While moving into my new apartment. It’s been a very, very stressful time.
Listening to the sermon Sunday morning, and again Christmas Eve, I couldn’t help but cry. For the first time in my life, I felt like I understood Mary. I am at my lowest right now. I have been humbled. I cannot be angry at anyone for causing me to be so desperate—my struggles cannot be blamed on anyone except for chance or circumstance. Right now, my only choice is to rely on the love and generosity of others, as Mary once relied on Joseph and God.
Accepting humility does not come easily for me. I want to do it all, on my own, without any outside assistance. But I am slowly realizing that not only can I not do everything by myself, but it is okay to accept help from others. I am not less of a woman, less of a person, for needing a helping hand.
My boss has been very understanding and helpful during this whole time. My boyfriend fixed a wrecked car for me and gave it to me for Christmas. My best friend cooks with me so we can spend quality time together without eating out. My parents gave me a check for Christmas, which led to me promptly bursting into tears.
This is the first Christmas I’ve really understood why God needs us to be humbled to come to Him. Everything has been so good for me, even when hospitalized or when stressed out at school, that I just never got it.
But now I do.
I can appreciate the talents God has given me while still realizing that talent alone does not make my life happy and prosperous.
I hope when I finish this ordeal, because I do see a light at the end of the tunnel, that I will be a more patient, sympathetic, loving Christian because of it all.
And to think.
I’m modeling my attitude off that of an unwed knocked up teenager.