“So lay down your burdens, lay down your shame. All who are broken lift up your face. Oh, wanderer, come home. You’re not too far. So lay down your hurt, lay down your heart. Come as you are.” ~ Come As Your Are by Crowder
As I sit here this morning drinking coffee, I find myself surrounded by Christmas decor and with it the joy of the season. Yet I keep encountering pockets of loss and sorrow mixed into the joy. This song came on by Crowder and I felt like it was speaking directly to me.
“So lay down your burdens, lay down your shame. All who are broken lift up your face.” This last year I received a new diagnosis to add to my ever growing list, ankylosing spondylitis. A big word that means my immune system has decided my spine is the enemy and is attacking it. The end result, if left untreated, is bone growth around the spine causing it to fuse together. Thankfully this diagnosis does have a treatment, an immune suppressant therapy. One of the downsides is when the common cold starts to hint at a potential secondary infection I’m immediately put on antibiotics as precaution since my immune system is suppressed. Another weakness I have to try to manage. The comical part of all this is my other diagnosis is Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, another genetic disorder that causes connective tissue to have too much stretch to it. So in other words I have the most hyper and hypo mobile disorders you can have. Or as my physical therapist put it, “You’ve been given a diagnosis similar to you’re too fat and too skinny all at the same time.” This all leaves me feeling broken and, at times, useless.
“Oh, wanderer, come home. You’re not too far.” This last year my son got married. Supposed to be a joyous family occasion but unfortunately the way it happened it opened a chasm in our family. The wounds from this has caused us to go from sharing anything and everything to superficial conversations. He and his sister rarely talk and he refuses to talk to his dad. My heart breaks. I pray daily for reconciliation and that he would know we are here with arms open wide.
“So lay down your hurt, lay down your heart. Come as you are.” As we wrestle with this last year’s hurts, disappointments, frustrations, anger, bitterness, and perceived injustices, I think all of us would love to just lay it down. Isn’t that the true call of Christmas? Christ came to make a way for us to have fellowship with our Creator. That we can truly come as we are. Not as we wish we were, or who we pretend to be on social media or in our peer group, not all put together with our best foot forward, but as we are. Broken, hurting, and royally messed up. I can go before my Creator and show Him my broken heart, I can tell Him that I don’t want to walk through these diagnosis. I can lay them at His feet, and then thank Him. Thank Him for walking with me and giving me a potential treatment that will prolong and make the rest of my life here less painful. I thank Him for surrounding me with family and friends that are understanding and step into my mess with me. That aren’t afraid to walk through life with me. I thank Him for loving my son even more than I do. For being there for him even when I can’t. For being a perfect parent to my son when I stumble and fail. I thank Him for the gift, that I probably will never fully comprehend, of sending His Son to die for me. My heart breaks because of where my relationship is with my son, for the struggles he will face. I can’t imagine knowing I was sending him to be tortured and crucified for those that hate him, and loving his enemies enough to let him endure that. I’m grateful I’m not God.
As I sit here and sadness and joy churn within me, I realize if it wasn’t for the sadness in life the joy wouldn’t be as sweet. I can’t lay down my burdens without first fully realizing the weight of them. If I don’t admit I’m broken than how can I find peace? In the words of Sadness from Inside Out “Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.” Too often I want to skip the crying and move straight to sunshine and rainbows. Without the rain though there is no rainbow. Without realizing the cost of the cross the joy of the resurrection wouldn’t be as powerful. This Christmas season let’s not rush through the Christmas story. Let’s not hurry through the cost to get to the reward. Let’s sit for awhile and consider His sacrifice that started in that lowly manager and ended in the grave, and let it weigh on us. Then when we celebrate the true Gift we can experience the fullness of Joy.
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