Going through the motions.

It's okay to be strong and sad, she told me. You can still be strong and grieve. You can still be strong and miss. You can still be strong and hurt.

I have spent my life with this iron will to be strong. It was never a choice that I made. It was just what I did. I developed this belief that crying was weak. Emotion, also weak. By the time I moved out of my house at age 17, I was robotic. I just went through the motions and did what had to be done. I worked, I went to school, I got good grades, I saw friends, I slept, I ate, I lived in a method of motions. And to this day, I worry that I am in danger of going through the motions. Of doing what needs to be done to get through the day or to be who I am supposed to be. 

Who am I supposed to be? Well, an employee at a job that doesn't spark me. A mom. A friend. A sister. 

I go through the motions still. I get up. I get us out the door. I get Caleb to school. I get myself to work. I sit at work. I leave. I get Caleb, deal with post school meltdown behavior most of the time and the daily beseeching for a car snack. I eventually get Caleb to bed, an ordeal in itself. And then, THEN I am alone. Finally able to do what I want. So I just sit here, and I be. Until it starts all over again. My friends know how late I am up sometimes. Part of that is because I have always, always been a night owl. As in, I stayed up as a child until 2am reading Little House on the Prairie books in bed. But now, now it is also because it is finally the time to do whatever I want. And by then, it's usually not much. 

I am looking around my living room, and I see the effort I put into Christmas. I see my list or my advent agenda and how it can be intense to people. I can see how my intentionality could be in danger of forcing something on my child. I could be forcing this story about Jesus and christmas onto him with my daily advent agenda and stories, etc. 

The reason I am so intentional about Christmas, is because I didn't have this. I have said this before, I know. But I didn't grow up in a typical loving atmosphere. I tried so much to create our traditions. I tried to have a spot for those stockings or for gifts when there was no tree. I wanted so badly to have this magical element of unity, family, and Christmas. 

I make lists like that as a guideline of ideas. But part of me is bothered we haven't done more of it. We haven't gone to see Christmas lights yet. We haven't made cookies and gifted them to neighbors. We haven't done that stuff yet. I know it is fine. I know there is time. I know. I just recognize this itch within me that is bothered that we haven't. Maybe because when I have a list, I have to check stuff off of it... I am sure that's not helpful. But everything apart from the significance of the birth of Christ is fluff that is amplified to overshadow the real, deep meaning of the holiday. It's good fluff, sure. It brings traditions and it brings a base of stability through that. It can bring families together. It can bring people together. But all of the fluff easily overshadows the celebration of the coming of the Christ, of Emmanuel. And so that is why I do Advent. We open our daily envelope, read that scripture, do our little devotion, add an ornament to Caleb's little tree with a name of God on it, and read a bible story leading up to Christ's birth. It freaks me out that the lights and myth of Santa and snowmen and reindeer and presents and stockings get in the way of what matters. But I think being prudent to not be forceful about what matters is also important.

I grew up with Jesus forced on me, in a matter of speaking. I was taken to church all my life. TBN was a constant on my household TV. My childhood was of extremes. More extreme spiritualism, Christianity, etc. Regardless of the home life instability coinciding with this version of Christianity, I grew up with this intrinsic knowledge of Emmanuel, God with us. Apart from all the shit, I had God. It is a precious, beautiful thing.

I don't just go through the motions anymore. I live through moments or sections of days. I think people can easily be in danger of going through the motions. We can easily fall into that. And sometimes, that is all you can do when you are coping and dealing with life. Sometimes when you are lost or in pain, you just need these motions. You just need to get up and get through your day. Sometimes you don't have it in you to live through the moments. I think that is one of the precious and beautiful things about childhood that I have seen from watching Caleb grow from being a wee babe. He lives in the moments. Children don't just go through the motions. With every fiber of their tiny beings, they feel that frustration overflowing right out of them and on to you and all other unsuspecting bystanders if their snack falls to the ground, or their cereal bar breaks in half. God forbid that child's firefighter toy be ill equipped with no oxygen tank and no helmet with the glass piece to protect the face (a reason we were late to school the other day, sigh). Kids live in the moment, and they invite us to live it with them. They pull you out of bed. They ask you to leave your work and be with them. They beckon us into their world. And the scary thing is when we don't, and when we keep not entering in, they just grow up and the moments pass all too fast.

I started off this blog talking about strength. My friend Anna messaged me about this yesterday in response to some things I was telling her. I have been sad, it's true. I think it's natural to go through phases like this. And I guess I am in one for now. But in all of this, I am reminded that human emotion coincides with strength. And living in moments and not through motions is so good to living life. Go in God's abundant peace and grace today, friends. :)