by Tina Yeager @tyeagerwrites
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world … and everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went … to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. Luke 2:1, 3-5 NIV
A shopping cart brushed past me in the holiday décor aisle. I stepped aside to avoid a collision, flattening myself against the shelves. As overhead speakers crackled into a whiny version of “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” I couldn’t have agreed less.
Rather than humming along with the music, my heart’s refrain leaned more toward “humbug.” I couldn’t stop thinking the phrase which had repeated in my head since moving to this rural town.
I don’t belong here.
I still had no church family. This Christmas season promised no neighborhood gatherings. No familiar shop clerks or community sights. Instead of heading off to volunteer, I would stay home to work. All alone in my little humbug hole.
As I faced working the hours formerly spent on celebrations in years past, I felt bustled. Displaced. Distracted and pushed. And not so much merry this season.
I struggled to focus on writing. Fatigue was crashing into me like the oblivious shopper’s cart. Yet an overwhelming pile of work loomed unfinished.
Retail therapy had failed to serve as respite, so I switched on the television. News channels raged with political drama. A cyclone of negativity whirled around me. I grumbled about how the holiday season ought to begin on a cheerier note. Yet a closer look at the first Christmas revealed eerie similarities between my modern distractions and those swirling around the ancient children of God.
Political, emotional, and work stressors riddled first century Israel, too. The government compelled all citizens to register for a census, regardless of the strain the requirement imposed on its subjects. It had sent the nation into a frenzy of stress.
The original Christmas saw Joseph and Mary on a journey beleaguered with isolation, tension, and discomfort. The scandal of Mary’s pregnancy had frayed extended relationships at home, and no warm welcome awaited them in Bethlehem, either. Much like our family having to leave our home place and face isolation on this Christmas.
They arrived in a town stirred to overflowing with stressors. Bethlehem had no room for a new arrival. I wonder if Mary or Joseph considered my not-so-merry refrain of I don’t belong here.
In truth, with Mary about to give birth, their journey was far more difficult than any other young couple seeking the earthly comforts of a community. Rejection and displacement plagued their steps. God chose an isolated stable as the humble venue for this first Christmas.
Even if humbugs tempted Mary and Joseph, they remained faithful to their calling. They served the Son of God, who belonged to a heavenly Kingdom. Amid national tension and community bustle, Mary focused on the birth of hope. The first to carry the gospel surrendered the distress over troubled circumstances and embraced the most glorious gift exchange of all.
I had forgotten my true home place and allowed the world’s stressors to sell me misery at the expense of joy.
I want to exchange my humbugs for hallelujahs for the rest of my days, no matter where the journey takes me. I might remain set apart at times while carrying his message. But this Christmas, I want to enter a quiet and humble place with Jesus and lay my burdens before him. May praise for the gift of my Savior remain the song of my heart for the rest of my days.
About the author: Award-winning author, speaker, licensed counselor, and life coach, Tina Yeager encourages audiences to fulfill their potential. She offers writing workshops through Serious Writer Academy, hosts the Flourish-Meant podcast, and is a mentor with Word Weavers International.
Tina’s book, Beautiful Warrior, empowers you to break free from the insecurity that has you trapped. Pick up your shield―the Word of God, your identity in Christ, and healthy thought patterns―and become the divine heroine you were destined to be.
Join the conversation: What do you do when the humbugs try to steal your joy?