I’m not alone in this. I hear it in my student’s complaints, in the grumblings of everyone I meet (because let’s not pretend that any one of us never grumbles), in the words of most people. We all think that life is kind of hard. This is especially true at Christmas, when there is just so much to do and we want to be merry and bright with every last fiber of our being, but we are a little more on the weary and broke side of things.
It is especially tempting to think that life is hard this December, as we are trying to celebrate and prepare for Christmas in the midst of car shopping, paperwork filing, etc. I have spent the last couple weeks frantically keeping up with end-of-semester details and grading and trying to turn in my dissertation prospectus (I defend tomorrow!), while James has no extra minutes since every December is a game of chicken with Congress and the budget that makes every politico burn the midnight candle from both ends. We are tired. We are having to spend lots of money. We are stressed. And so, it is tempting to think that life is hard and that maybe someday, it will get easier.
But in the midst of this Christmas season, I have been reminded instead that it will never get easier than now. When we started decorating our apartment, I dug our Christmas stuff out of storage (read: the giant plastic bins on the porch). Every last Christmas decoration — all 3 strands of lights, 16 ornaments, 1 mug, 1 vase, 4 fake cranberry sprigs, 2 pot holders, a couple prints, and one golden moose — fits in a small box and one plastic grocery bag. We decorated in under an hour. And as every year I find myself adding one or two tiny things to the stash, I remember — it will never be easier than now.
We’ve been able to squeeze in all our favorite Christmas outings in the midst of the busy, because even though we are two people with busy schedules — we are just two people. Home cleaning is something that has… shall we say, slipped a little lately. But the other day I did a deep clean because I found that I had 1 extra hour, and that is pretty much enough time to clean our apartment, since it is approximately the size of four shoe boxes. Someday, we would love to live somewhere bigger, have kids, buy a house– add all sorts of wonderful complications to our life. Which is why this Christmas season reminds me — it will never be easier than now. Life is ever expanding and every expansion makes it harder, even if it also makes it better.
And for some people, life is hard now. Lately we have been praying hard over people in our lives, shedding tears over illness and loss and sin that rips apart families and hearts. There are so many people I love who are desperately praying for days when things are easier than now, and I am rooting right alongside them. And that reminds me to think twice before starting up my stressful, self-indulgent, and misguided pity-party.
So today, as I am trying to tackle the pile of mail that is breeding on the table, trying to address the Christmas cards that have sat neglected by the couch for a week, trying to write an amazing prospectus presentation to wow my committee and distract them from the holes in my research, trying to clean the floors and make food for later in the week, trying to squeeze in a run, trying to sort out “new” car paperwork and make sense of it all, trying to finish up wedding photos for clients, trying to enter in all those last grades for my students, trying NOT to just take a nap and watch Hallmark Christmas movies (though I do love the reminder that God sent his son at Christmas so that we could all have hot boyfriends), I am chanting to myself, like a holy incantation over my day —
It will never get easier than now.
Might as well enjoy it.