Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Not My Christmas

I was trying to catch a huge rat on Christmas Eve. I had prepared the glue trap—complete with peanut butter on it to attract the rodent living in my laundry room. Now I just needed to plug off the hole from the outside to the inside of the house by replacing the wire mesh over the dryer hole. That done, I stood up from my crouching position, suddenly realizing my mistake.

The glue trap had caught me. Well, my nice, dry-clean-only shirt to be exact. I had forgotten that I had been holding the trap when I bent over to repair the hole. Now it was completely stuck to my shirt.

I paused in that place between crying and laughing. This was certainly not my Christmas.

Christmas in Indonesia is never exactly Christmasy in the traditional sense. The 90-degree year-round heat makes me sweat while I put up my decorations each year. I listen to “Let it Snow” knowing we will never have a white Christmas here. I’m never exactly “Home for Christmas.” And it never starts to look a lot like Christmas in a Muslim-majority town where 90 percent of the people don’t even celebrate the holiday.

But this year was a particularly Grinch-like one. My husband threw his back out the week of Christmas. My house flooded twice that week. I spent over an hour each time mopping the water out, singing Christmas carols at the top of my lungs to keep my fussy kids (and myself) from crying. My 5-month-old daughter had been sick all week—and not sleeping well, which meant I was more sleep-deprived than usual. Then at 4 p.m. Christmas Eve, I noticed our refrigerator was no longer working—an hour before we were supposed to join some friends for a nice, Christmas Eve meal. My husband had to stay behind to wait for the repair guy to fix it so that all our food wouldn’t spoil—even though the night already felt spoiled. And now I had rats.

And glue everywhere—including all the door knobs I had touched on my way to show my husband my sticky situation.

No, definitely not my Christmas.

I spent the next hour scrubbing the glue off my hands and my neck, doing a bit of soul-cleaning while I was at it. I wanted to whine about how life wasn’t fair, and how I deserve to have something go right on Christmas, and how I wish I could just enjoy a Christmas every once in a while. Then I realized I was right. This is not my Christmas.

And it never should be. Christmas isn’t about me. It is a day to enjoy and proclaim Life in a dying world. It is about the Truth that conquers lies. And it is Hope for a future of joy that never ends.

I love living for that purpose here in Indonesia, most of the other 364 days. I loved welcoming some 80 Indonesian friends into my home for a Christmas party earlier in the week. I loved sitting with my Indonesian friend who is new to the faith on Christmas Eve for her dinner that night, alongside her Muslim and Buddhist friends. And I love enjoying the certainty of God’s favor that is undeserved on my part because of the sacrifice on His part.

Not my Christmas, but His. Not my ministry, but His. Not my new year, but His. Not my will, but His. Not my life, but His.

I got my next chance to embrace my new-found realization again early on Christmas morning, as I carefully opened the laundry room door. This time the glue trap caught a huge, stinky rat.


  1. Excellent post Rebecca. Sometimes we have to come to the end of our rope to realize we were never the One holding up the rope in the first place. Praise the Lord that He keeps working on ALL of us! :-) Happy New Year! Blessings!

  2. Rebecca, I hope Renea is feeling better. I can't imagine 90 degrees right now. The kids are celebrating today because after a week of the temps hovering betweem -20 and -5 we are having a heat wave and the temp is up to +32. They've been out all day making snowmen and sledding.
    Those times when you aren't sure whether to laugh or cry are the times that you still remember 10 or 20 years later and by then they are great memories!


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