Merry Christmas from the Middle East

This Christmas we made many plans on our official ten days off from the program. We had a normal weekend when finals ended by hanging out with friends for a surprise birthday party, and attending a church Christmas dinner party but then packed up for a few days in the mountains. Before I share about our time up north I’d like to share about what I’m learning this Christmas:

Today, nothing seemed to go right. I got in an argument with a close friend two nights ago who really wanted us to attend the church service this morning, which is outside my American tradition. I woke up later than I had set my alarm for, probably because I went to bed way later than I had intended due to feeling the need to clean my disaster of a room. Our morning brunch after the big sleepover spilled into opening presents and thus I threw on clothes, a little makeup and ran out the door for a 6 minute walk a good 15 min after the service had already started. I was determined to take part in the Lebanese way of doing Christmas, which is going to church Christmas morning, partially in hopes to satisfy the desire of the friend who requested our presence.

My friend seemed to care little that I had showed up even after having made a big deal that we be there. I came home, really tired but did little throughout my afternoon, discouraged at my efforts to go to church and missing out on time with my friends here at the apartment. For whatever reason my emotions were running high and felt like nothing about how I looked and felt was good enough to go out and see my lebanese friends with whom we had all made plans to be with tonight more than a week ago. I get a good morning text from my mama (morning back in the states) and decide to FaceTime everyone while they open presents but can’t get myself together.

“Its not even about Christmas” I choke through the tears, telling mom as she takes the iPad into the other room to chat with me away from everyone else.

Even though I’m technically alone for Christmas night, I’m thankful for all the love, support and generosity given to me from back home and here as well really. I did chose to stay home from the party.

All that to say, life could be way worse, but for my own circumstances and feelings, although potentially illogical, still very real; God is near. A girl who has really taken a liking to our friendship texted me about her struggle with the change in her life to receive Christ. This Christmas is her first celebrating Jesus as her beloved. It was good to talk to her, and hear about how God is meeting her needs in so many ways despite hard circumstances in her family.

God gave up his rights on the throne, he gave up the powers and perfection in heaven to become a man, He is Immanuel. Jesus, my savior, tonight is “God with us”. He came to earth, walked among sin and then atoned for a faithless people. He is all I need Him to be, when I am never what he requires. In so many unfathomable ways and I am forever grateful for His love tonight for me, despite my fickle heart.

May we remember without the purity of white snow that like the grass, God gives us new life. We are given life in Him, and we are shown unexplainable goodness as we receive new mercies each morning from Him. This Christmas my prayer is that we would cling to the one who is with us, the one who never leaves us, who knows us all by name, the one who tells us we are loved when the world seems to forsake us, when we think we can forsake ourselves. I’m thankful for all the provision God has given us in this country and grateful for a night alone to spend with my beloved. Jesus, I love you. Thank you for becoming a man and showing us that you are The way, The truth and The life. (John 14:6)

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