This year Christmas hasn’t really felt like Christmas. Even with my choir concerts, full of jubilant carols and beautifully done Messiah movements, I’ve had a difficult time getting into the spirit of things. Part of it is that I let my life get too busy the past few months. Teaching, grading, packing boxes, and running to rehearsal after rehearsal has left me little time to think and reflect and just feel. Even while the joyous Christmas music echoed through the concert hall, I was worrying about my diction, or about what I needed to accomplish before I left town for the holidays.
I’m not very good at finding balance in my life. When I’m not pushing myself into manic exuberance, my life approaches a near standstill and my body crashes, overtaxed and overtired. I withdraw to recuperate, and then I find loneliness creeping back in, and I head back the other direction, adding activities and connections to create a greater sense of fulfillment. My life is good, but not ever quite stable, and at the center there’s often a gaping hole, and I’m not always sure what it is that I’m missing and frantically trying to find.
I realized this as I sat in the car yesterday with my siblings. We were driving to my parents’ house, listening to music, eating french fries, and talking snarkily about inconsequential things. I felt at home, and I realized this is the feeling that has been missing in my life. And this is the feeling I wish I could fully access this Christmas season (and beyond). I ponder the miracle of the Savior’s birth, and I worry that the miracles I most want in my own life are untenable. This year I have learned not to take anything for granted, and I am profoundly grateful for the multitude of blessings in my life, but I struggle to not want or demand more, and I worry that by wanting more, I am dooming myself to further imbalance.
Right now, the peace and joy that typically suffuses my life during the holidays is eluding my grasp. And I think it’s partly because that in all of the neverending back and forth in my life, I’ve lost sight of God. Since my crisis earlier this year calmed down, I’ve found myself withdrawing spiritually, wanting to protect myself from further hurt and turmoil, thinking I had my life under control. My life is under control, but sometimes just barely, and I think I need God. Not in the urgent way I needed him this summer–to make sense of pressing emotional and religious dilemmas–but in a calming, watchful way. Rather than the peace of healing and clarity, I need the peace of being centered and grounded.
Christmas may not feel like Christmas this year, but missing the spirit of the season has left me pondering the cycles of my life and wondering if I can figure out how to find more balance and peace.