On Christmas we celebrate because love has shown up in our world. Not in some vague, abstract way. But love, in the flesh, in the person of Jesus.
And when love shows up, there are a few things that can happen:
- Our identity shifts
- Injustice is exposed
- We receive healing and freedom
- We participate in love
I have learned these truths most poignantly through our daughter Penny. Before she was born, I worked to earn love and prove I was worthy of it. (I still do that more often than I wish.) Once I held her in my arms, I realized that she was beloved not because of her achievements, not because she was going to meet milestones on time, not because of her performance, but because she was our beautiful baby girl. She was beloved. And, I started to realize, so was I.
At that point, my identity shifted from achievement to belovedness. And then, the grief began. This recognition of her belovedness brought up in me an awareness of the ways I had lived with a hierarchy of human value and worth that cut some people off and welcomed others in. It exposed my own participation in injustice. It exposed ugly parts of my soul I didn’t want to see. It exposed sin.
And yet, the beauty of love is that it does not want to shame or harm me. It only wants to heal and free me. And so that same love that brought me to a place of ugly grief began a work of healing and freedom.
From there, and even in the midst of that process of recognition and transformation, I was invited to participate in love again and again and again.
Jesus’ birth is the moment that love showed up, definitively, so that all humans could know we are invited to belovedness, freedom, and participation in love.
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