Joseph scooped cow dung off the filthy barn floor to clear space enough for his wife to give birth to the Son of God. According to The Chosen Christmas Special, 2021, the inn keeper said no room was available but empathically offered clean linens to wrap the newborn in. After doing this Mary used the left-0ver cloth to soften the horse trough where He was laid.
That dirty stable birth is an intentional representation of the conditions Jesus wants to be in with us.
I meet monthly with a group of men to process our emotions and receive validation about the difficulties we might be going through in our life.
I cringed with guilt during one of those meeting when I realized my verbal consent to someone was within earshot of another person whom I had denied a similar request. He could have assumed I was being a hypocrite and playing personal favoritism.
You know that flash of shame when it feels like you “got caught”? The blood drains from your head, a sick feeling grips your stomach, and you panic to redact, cover up, or wiggle out of whatever you’ve said! (I wonder if Adam and Eve reacted the same way when they suddenly became ashamed, they were naked.) This feeling of panic threatened to overwhelm me until I remembered my four simple steps to overcome negative emotions.
It was surprising how effortlessly I moved into:
- Calling a timeout from my escalating panic
- Making an intentional effort to quiet myself
- Remembering something enjoyable
- Letting that memory replace what was overwhelming me
And then thoughts about Jesus came to my mind.
- He didn’t come to condemn. He came to restore. John 3:17
- He wants me and everyone to be saved. 2Peter 3:9
- His Spirit is love, joy, and peace. Galatians 5:22-23
- He prepares enjoyable provision amid everything that attacks us and overflows our cup with generosity. Psalm 23:5
- His goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our life. Psalm 23:6
I recalled all this in a few seconds, then remembered the grungy stable Jesus was born into that correlates with the feelings of guilt, hypocrisy, and failure we experience in our lives.
The transforming process didn’t take long. And I don’t remember how the guilt went away, but something better and truer, about Him wanting to be with us in our condition, took the place of the shame and guilt I was panicking about. By the end of the meeting, the other guy and I made a satisfying connection, and everything felt resolved.
I wonder how different it could have been for Adam and Eve if they would have remembered to let God be with them instead of running away. And for us to remember: That dirty stable birth represents God’s intention to be with us in all the stench of our human condition because that’s the only place He can reach and restore us in our deepest pain.