Wednesday, December 23, 2020
The announcement of a newborn baby creates enthusiasm. I suspect that the chemical released into the brain to produce euphoria has a serious side effect. It seems to block the neuro-transmitters required to make good decisions.
The day our son Joshua was born we made calls to all our family and friends to announce the birth. The next day, two of those family members asked us how long Denise would be in the hospital. I wondered why they were asking. I suspected they were making plans to show up at our house.
I was right. If you have been following my journey through Christmas past you understand the importance of my family’s togetherness during the holidays. So, on Christmas Eve, the day we brought Joshua home from the hospital, my parents and one of my brothers showed up to celebrate Christmas. The enthusiasm of a newborn plus the tradition of family togetherness motivated a decision that wasn’t practical and was very inconvenient.
We lived in a small ranch-style home with three bedrooms and only one bathroom. There was a family room in the basement that otherwise was unfinished. Our six-year old daughter had one bedroom with a single bed. Our four-year old son had another bedroom with a single bed. My wife and I had the third bedroom with a queen-sized waterbed. There were no other beds in the house except the hide-a-bed sofa in the living room. Mom and dad claimed that.
My brother’s family of four claimed the family room. Air mattresses were inflated. Sleeping bags were unrolled. Children in underwear were tolerated.
Our house was heated with the wood stove in the family room. To maintain a consistent temperature of seventy-two degrees upstairs, the basement of the house was over eighty-five degrees. The countertop in the corner was stacked with clothing that was removed for survival in what came to be known as the basement beach.
At first the inconveniences of all that company were overwhelming. So much so that as I searched our family photo archives I did not find a single picture from that Christmas. But as I look back on it now, I realize I learned a lesson that has stuck with me. Why would I allow those invasions of my comfort zones to affect me the way they did? Our family was there to worship the newborn King lying in a manger in a stable in an unfamiliar place. How could my inconveniences be compared to them?
The entrance of our Savior into this world exploded the comfort zones of many. Mary gave birth in a stable after a long and uncomfortable journey, with no support from family or friends. Joseph must have dealt with feelings of failure as a husband and father for not providing adequately for his wife and baby. The shepherd’s livelihood was threatened when the angel instructed them to leave their sheep alone in the fields and go find baby Jesus. Magi began an almost two-year journey from their homeland to a place they had never been with an outcome that would threaten their lives.
I believe we all suffer from varying levels of self-protection of our comfort zones. The avoidance of inconvenience limits our understanding of God and our experience of His presence and power. I am learning to embrace inconvenience. I am growing in my understanding of God’s goodness by asking Him to manage outcomes. My comfort zones have ever-expanding walls, allowing for greater experience with a limitless God. My prayer is that God will continue to surprise me with inconveniences.