Yesterday, I was on the phone listening to a friend navigating through the emotions of a strained friendship. It was so good to hear him share even if it was him struggling. I was not happy that he was having to go through the struggle but there was another part that felt encouraged. I guess that part was knowing that I was not alone in my own struggle. Our hearts can be so hard to understand and know when certain emotions mask the softer ones. For me, it takes a lot to slow down and pay attention to feelings below the anger or shame. I go to anger and shame because they are the most familiar and safe. Even as I write this, I think to myself "this is crazy to say anger is the safest", but when I'm in the moment I think its true. It is safest to me in the moment because it allows me to feel like I'm in control even if its for the moment. In reality, I'm choosing to keep myself alone and disconnected from my heart and the softer emotions. It keeps me from realizing my enormous need for others.
I have found that below my anger and shame is often times a lot of hurt and fear. It hurts to be misunderstood and judged. I know that when I went through some life changing events a few years ago there were some who didn't even hear my heart and went to judgment. As a result, they would mask their own feelings by trying to give me advice and correction.
In relationship, I'm longing for connection vs. correction. I want to be heard and understood instead of being told things like, "you should" or "you need". The sad part is that I do the same thing to others especially to my wife. It takes a lot more courage to risk it by showing how scared and needy I am. And I'm not talking about just saying "I'm scared" but showing it as well. The amazing thing is that when I feel connected, the other issues / troubles seem to not be as bothersome and pressing.
So as we reflect on the Christmas season my hope is that we can see that the intrusion of Jesus (being fully God and fully man) is an intrusion of hope and redemption. Gabriel tells Mary to not be afraid. I believe He is saying to Mary and to all of us... "It is Ok, I'm here, and Yahweh is near. Beloved, you are safe, you are loved, and you are worth it."