In the depths of every human heart lies the desire to be accepted. We take one glance around the world we live in, one peek at our phone, and we are instantly bombarded with facades. I know that I don’t need to write out a laundry list of the ways we tirelessly try to portray a perfectly curated image to our network of family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers. I’ve never met a person who has not struggled with being accepted and loved for who they are.
The irony of this ache is that we are chosen and loved immeasurably by the one who knew everything about us and sacrificed everything for us. Nothing scares Jesus away from loving us as we are. Rather, despite the fact that he loves us unconditionally, we struggle to accept him for who he is. We hesitate to choose his love, even though it’s perfect.
Why is it so hard for us to embrace the love of our Savior?
Personally, I think sometimes it is hard to believe that his love is as good as he says it is. I don’t doubt that Jesus loves perfectly, but there’s moments in my life that I doubt he could love me perfectly. I see his beauty and glory all around me, and then I realize how little I am in comparison to who he is. I remember how many times I have turned away from his tenderness, and suddenly, I feel intimidated and fearful, even though he’s given me no reason to be. While contrition serves its purpose in confessing our sins to receive the forgiveness of the Lord, running away from him out of fear never does.
That’s what I love about Christmas. Who can be afraid of a sweet little baby?
As I reflected on Jesus’ birth this year, I was struck by the blissful spirit of a baby that lightens up even the most tense situations. Being a single woman in her late twenties surrounded by mamas and soon to be mamas, I can’t help but notice how people flock to their little babes without hesitation. The moment a baby enters the room, conversations pause, everyone’s gaze slowly shifts toward the little one, and arms start to drift outward eagerly awaiting the chance to hold the child for a while.
Now, some of you are the type to aggressively intercept the baby the first chance you get (you know who you are), and you’re good at it. You playfully join conversations near the babe smiling and tickling the child until you get your message across and swoop in for the taking. Others of us, don’t dare to compete with the swoopers. Instead, we wait until the crowd dies down and the mother asks if we would like a chance to hold her baby. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, each of us share the desire to varying degrees. There’s nothing quite like holding a baby. Sweet, tender, soft, silly, loving, humble, non-judgmental, endearing, and approachable.
Here lies the beauty of the incarnation. Jesus comes to us as a sweet, tender, soft, silly, loving, humble, non-judgmental, endearing, and approachable little baby. No wonder people traveled from near and far to adore him. There’s nothing to be afraid of.
If you’re hesitating to connect with Jesus, or running out of places to hide and reasons why you’re too much or not enough for his love, try holding baby Jesus in your arms this year. The beautiful bundle of joy asks nothing of you and gives you everything in return.
Maybe you were ready to swoop in this Christmas toward the manger and cuddle Jesus in your arms, or perhaps, you felt like you were waiting in a crowd for the hustle and bustle to pass so you could finally have a quiet moment with the Lord. Even still, maybe you’re bowing before him not quite ready to approach the manger, or you’re slowly making your way there feeling the tremble that the shepherds felt in the field that night.
Wherever you are, Jesus trusts you. He entrusts himself to you to hold him in your arms. He wants you to love him and accept him for who he is, so that you can feel him holding you and accepting you for all that you are. Be not afraid, dear one.
“Again and again it astonishes us that God makes himself a child so that we may love him, so that we may dare to love him, and as a child trustingly lets himself be taken into our arms, it is as if God were saying: ‘I know that my glory frightens you, and that you are trying to assert yourself in the face of my grandeur. So now I am coming to you as a child, so you can accept me and love me.'” – Pope Benedict XVI