SILENT NIGHTS

Activated - - NEWS - By Marie Alvero

Weary. That used to be my word for De­cem­ber. Yes, I know it doesn’t con­vey the true won­der of the sea­son. But the days are hard and long, and by this time of year, I have 300-plus be­hind me. I just wish the year wouldn’t race past me and leave me feel­ing to­tally spent—and still com­ing up short.

Each year starts with an op­por­tu­nity and a prom­ise. I al­ways start with great goals: I’m go­ing to lose 15 pounds, we’ll save X amount of money, we’ll carve out more fam­ily time out­doors, I’ll earn that pro­mo­tion, etc. But as the mo­men­tum of the year builds, I feel like I’m run­ning a three-legged race blind­folded. Stress. Life. Work. Fam­ily. It’s a lot.

Then De­cem­ber rolls around and I drag my weary be­hind into the kitchen to bake and cook all the good­ies that taste like Christ­mas. I take my skinny wal­let to the store to buy Christ­mas. We put up dec­o­ra­tions to the point that it looks like our house was in the path of a Christ­mas cloud­burst. My fam­ily signs up for com­mu­nity out­reach and vol­un­teer­ing to try to give Christ­mas. We watch Christ­mas movies and lis­ten to Christ­mas mu­sic so that we can feel Christ­mas. Then why do I still feel like I’ve missed Christ­mas? Two Christ­mases ago, I heard this cho­rus on my car’s ra­dio, and the tears flowed: I need a silent night, a holy night To hear an an­gel voice through the chaos and the noise

I need a mid­night clear, a lit­tle peace right here To end this crazy day with a silent night. 1

That elu­sive silent night was ex­actly what my soul was crav­ing. What I learned in that mo­ment of teary con­tem­pla­tion is that I can’t do Christ­mas from empty. I can’t take a tired and de­pleted soul and ex­pect it to pour out abun­dantly. I can’t ex­pect the “sea­son’s magic” to be enough to fuel me.

Now I plan those “silent nights” into the year. I’m learn­ing to rec­og­nize when I’m de­pleted and weary, and the things I need to feel recharged. Thank­fully, they’re pretty sim­ple things: 1) Quiet time. Time spent read­ing God’s Word, pray­ing, wor­ship­ping in song. 2) Enough rest. I can­not be per­pet­u­ally tired. 3) Ba­sic fit­ness and care for my body. Health per­mits

func­tion. 4) Hu­man con­nec­tion. I need to feel con­nected to my hus­band and chil­dren. I also need reg­u­lar mean­ing­ful con­nec­tion with peo­ple be­yond my fam­ily. 5) Some kind of “you are here” map in my head. I can’t feel to­tally lost. Tak­ing stock of th­ese things on a reg­u­lar ba­sis helps me to not show up for Christ­mas spir­i­tu­ally and emo­tion­ally bank­rupt. Ac­tu­ally, it helps me all through the year.

Marie Alvero is a for­mer mis­sion­ary to Africa and Mex­ico. She cur­rently lives a happy, busy life with her hus­band and chil­dren in Cen­tral Texas, U.S.A.

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