My daughter, Michelle, opened the oven, only to discover... the cake was a flop! It was supposed to be a layer cake. She had planned a luscious filling, and either fluffy frosting or flowers created with fondant. It would have been almost too beautiful to eat. But an ingredient was too old, or the oven temperature was wrong, and there it was, flat and dried out. There was no way she could take that mess to the party.

It took a little time, work, and a few more ingredients, but Michelle was able to redeem the failed baking by turning it into cake pops. She crumbled the cake, whipped up the best icing she could make, and stirred it into the crumbs. She then formed the mixture into little round balls and put a stick into each of them. Once they were frozen, she covered each one in melted icing. Then she added as many details as she had time for — eyes and smiles, antlers for the reindeer, or hats for snowmen. They were not what she had planned, but they were beautiful.

God at work in my messes

The days before Christmas should be filled with excitement and joy. But for me this year, they are not. Instead, there is only more dread each day leading up to the 25th. My family is moving toward becoming one of the broken families that fill our society. It has been coming for a while, but this year, the process officially got started. I am getting divorced. Christmas will be a lot different this year.

If it were just this year that was going to be different, I think it would be easier to handle. But I know next year will be the same. A chair at the table will be empty and it won’t be filled again. Someone else might sit in it one day, but it won’t ever be the same.

How many people feel the same way this year? My son lost a friend in a car crash a few weeks ago. His family is in mourning and their Christmas table will have an empty spot. Spouses have become widows and widowers this year. Their Christmases will never be the same, either. So what are we supposed to do with these messy Christmases?

My Christmas feels like that failed cake. It doesn’t look anything like the way I pictured it. It is so far from what I planned and worked toward. It hurts, and although the pain may dull a little in time, it will always be there. There is a void that will never be filled.

But I have hope in the midst of this mess. If Jesus is my foundation, he’ll be there underneath that pain. If he is Number One in my life, the pain will only ever be Number Two. He can, and will, ease the burden. He is the only way that the void can be filled. Is it easy? No. But the world doesn’t offer better solutions. Numbing the pain with busyness or alcohol will not change it. Only God, his love, and his peace can fill in the missing and broken places. If I am willing to hand my mess over to him, he can turn this into something better. He might even take the time to dress it up with antlers or a hat.

If your Christmas feels un-fixable, take heart that God is the God of the impossible. He is the God who moves mountains, the God who gave babies to a barren women and a virgin when everyone knew that was impossible. He is the God who drew water from a rock, the God who makes a way where there is no way. He is the God who gave us Christmas when there was no room at the inn. He is the God who looked on us with pity and said, “I’ll go to them myself." I don't know yet what God has planned for me or for you, but I know that he loves us and I believe that we are not alone.

Here’s my messy Christmas, Father. Show me what you can do.

Photo Credit: włodi