What do tonsils and Advent have to do with one another?
Seemingly nothing, at first glance. The two have coincided in my life this year, as my daughter is having hers removed today, December 18.
At age twelve, we’ve only recently discovered that her oversized tonsils are obstructing her sleep. Dangling like two red ornaments into her airway, those tonsils cause her breathing to stop about every three minutes throughout the night; her brain arouses her to shift into a position that will enable respiration again. The result: she’s chronically tired and cranky, is often sick, has trouble focusing and remembering, and probably isn’t growing as well as she should. Our hope is that by removing the obstructions, she will — perhaps for the first time in her life (!) — experience the rest she needs to be healthy mentally, physically and emotionally.
I confess, adding minor surgery to our family calendar just seven days before Christmas did initially cause me some internal anguish due to the impact on my agenda. But when your daughter isn’t breathing, not much else is important by comparison. The way I live in December bears an uncanny resemblance to my daughter’s life every-day.
I scurry about my longer-than-usual-thanks-to-Christmas list of tasks as though I’m a contestant on Minute to Win It. I find myself crabby from burning my Advent candles at both ends — wrapping gifts in the dark morning hours and up late after school holiday activities. As a result, I get sick almost every December with a hacking cough — this year included. Worst of all, I grow no closer to Jesus through these labors. Perhaps these are obstructions blocking my spiritual airway, impediments to breathing deeply of the life-giving truth of Jesus’ coming?
Do I have Christmas apnea?
We were all born with tonsils, but not all tonsils are measured in bowling-ball equivalencies, nor do they cause sleep apnea in all people. The same could be said of our varied approaches to Christmas preparations and celebrations: Santa or no Santa. Cards shipped directly from Tiny Prints to recipients or painstakingly handwritten. Parties, musical performances, cookie exchanges, post office trips and menu-planning. Not one of those is a universal cause of the frustration, fatigue or guilt that many of us feel each December. But one or two (or a combination) of those may, in fact, be the cause for a particular individual. Since the cause isn’t universal, a tradition-ectomy can’t be universally prescribed.
In quiet moments before the Throne, shall we individually evaluate each of our traditions and commitments with a single test: are they bringing life and joy to our Advent experience or blocking our airway and impeding our growth in Him? We may need to do this annually, weekly, daily, or even moment-by-moment. Being willing to make difficult (or unpopular) changes that will yield health and growth in our spiritual lives at Christmas and year-round is the only way we’ll experience
…rest instead of weariness…
…peace instead of guilt…
…joy instead of crankiness.
Because our focus will be on Him.
What change will you make this year?
What tradition do you have that helps you keep your focus on Christ?
Share your ideas with us below!