As Christmas approaches and I prepare to celebrate the miracle of Jesus’ birth, I reflect on how the Saviour of the world was once a tiny, vulnerable baby who depended on others for survival and remained vulnerable even as a man (Isaiah 53). Despite or perhaps because of His reliance on others, Jesus was called Emmanuel, God with us.
Christ’s dependence on others reflects His human experience and serves as a valuable reminder that no one is totally independent, not even God-become-flesh.
Of all the names given to the Saviour, the name Emmanuel really resonates with me because it reminds me that God is with me on a daily basis, ensuring that my needs are cared for. Aspects of my own vulnerability are represented in my reliance on others for personal care and tasks of daily living. When I speak to conferences and community groups I often say that I view the care that I receive from others as an extension of God’s love and care for me. I truly believe this, or at least I thought I did. Yet, somehow I never expected that such love and care could or would extend through the holidays. In recognition that my care team consists of university students whose families live out of town, I rarely if ever considered asking them to work at all during the holidays. However, as time has passed and I have grown up it has become harder and harder for my family to assume total responsibility for the support that I require throughout the holidays. Therefore, in preparation for this season I explained the issue to my team and asked if there was any way they could continue to provide some support to me over the holidays.
I was surprised and overwhelmed by the positive response. Without hesitation many of my assistants agreed. Together, we quickly organized a schedule that would work for everyone. The special part is that this schedule is not just about work. It involves enjoying the holidays together, with Christmas baking, traveling and parties.
This experience represented a Christmas miracle in my own life, though I have not decided if the miracle was that the faith in my mind made its way to my heart or vice-versa. Either way, a shift occurred and the foundation of my faith is stronger for it. It has shown me that God is indeed with me year round, even through the holidays. It has also taught me the importance of being honest about my needs and allowing God to work through others.
If you are feeling overwhelmed this season, I urge you to be honest about your needs and consider that our limits may be opportunities for others to give. In this way we follow the example of Emmanuel, born into the world as a baby reliant on God and those who loved and cared for Him.
A very Merry Christmas to you and your family from all of us here at Christian Horizons and the Disability and Faith Forum!