by Alex Fittin
I think like most people in the United States, I grew up with a sense of magic surrounding Christmas. I was raised in a Christian home, so we definitely talked about Jesus being the “reason for the season” and whatnot, but I was still very much still a kid, and my eyes were way more drawn to Santa and presents and Christmas movies and red and green everything than all of the Silent Night, baby in a manger stuff.
As I grew older and after I had accepted Christ as my Savior, I remember trying my best to think reverently of Christmas, but also just wanting it to be fun and magical and not have to worry about sharing my attention with Jesus. It’s not that I think that this was so horrible necessarily, I think it was just part of the journey, and it definitely helped me to see a stark contrast between that era and the one that began when I started to see Christmas the way I do now.
It was 2014 and we had just had our oldest biological child, Grady. He was born on December 10th, so he was still fresh at Christmas time. I remember taking him to our beloved Grove Church Christmas Eve service. We sat on the back row so we could bolt if necessary, because the absolute worst thing that could happen was for him to cry during the service (we were new parents, cut us a break). That’s when it happened.
God nudged me during one of the songs and said to me: “Think about how much you love that little boy. Think about how you would die for him without even taking one second to think about it. I loved Jesus more than even that and I sent that perfect, completely innocent baby boy of Mine on that first Christmas to die because I also love you.”
For many Christians, this is not a new concept. We know the true meaning of Christmas and everything and I was no exception that night, but it still felt like all of the air had vacated my lungs. It all made sense now. The reverence, the solemnity, the holiness, all of it. This day is as heartbreaking as it is joyful.
As an adoptive parent, I have come to know that for something as beautiful and restorative as adoption to happen, something else has to be broken and wrecked first. Someone has to lose their child in order for someone else to adopt them. That’s what God was trying to tell me that night. He had to lose His perfect Son to the sinful world so that we could be adopted by Him and be saved. Christmas IS magical, but first it had to be devastating. It was the night that Jesus became separated from God and made “lower than the angels for a time” (Hebrews 2:9). It was the night that changed everything.
For us, Christmas is when we praise God for sending His Son to save us from our own sinful nature, and for God, it’s the night His heart was broken so that we could be made whole. I wept that night and several times since at the thought of sending my precious newborn baby boy away from my safety to die. That’s when it changed for me. I began to see Christmas with eyes better attuned to its magnitude and complete holiness.
Oh Holy Night, the stars were brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world, in sin and ever pining, till He appeared, and the soul felt its worth.