I have never considered myself a particularly "religious" person, probably because of the personal issues I have with my own church - the Catholics never were the easiest to handle. I do, however, consider myself a woman of faith, and I have always tried to have faith that there is someone looking out for all of us and some sort of bigger plan. But in the past few years, that faith has wobbled. There were moments where I felt it was crumbling down around me. I saw people doing or saying things in the name of "Christianity" that went completely against what I believed was the message of Christ, which was to love God above all else and to love your neighbor as yourself. It seemed a simple message to me, but it was drowned out by hatred, ignorance, and intolerance. I started to wonder if I could continue to call myself a Christian when so many people who went by the same name preached a different message than what I believed. On top of that, I moved away from home and stopped attending church on a weekly basis. I still prayed, I still called on God for support, but I stopped making my faith a priority in my life.
Then I had one of the hardest years I have ever had in my life. I lost my beloved maternal grandfather and my childhood dog, both while I was out of the state. I got my dream job, realized it was not my dream job, cried a lot, and left it. I took another job that I thought would be perfect and it turned out to be a stressful job, with minimal pay and minimal hours. My boyfriend moved across the country, putting us not only into a long distance relationship, but a complicated stalemate of "I want to live here and you want to live there, what do we do now?" Then we lost my grandfather's wife, who was the closest I had ever gotten to having a grandmother. I began to question whether or not I even believed in God - everyone had always told me God would never give me more than I could handle, but I felt like I was at my breaking point and there was no end in sight. If there was a God, why did I feel so incredibly alone?
And I'll admit it - I'm still struggling. I desperately want to be a woman of strong faith, like my mom, like my roommate that I admired. But all Christmas season, I have felt like I didn't know where to go. I looked for my Christmas spirit and couldn't find it. I just felt overwhelmed.
Then I was listening to the radio just a few nights ago and "The Little Drummer Boy" came on. It has always been one of my favorites, but for some reason, listening to it this time, I felt something come back to life inside of me. I wasn't perfect - my faith had wavered, I had questioned my God, and at times, felt like he had turned away from me. I felt a lot like that little boy who thought he had nothing to offer to Jesus. But he was wrong - he had himself. And just by being himself, and doing his very best, he was able to make his Lord smile. I cried and cried listening to the song because I felt like even if it wasn't always perfect, even if I wavered, even if I questioned... if I did my very best, it was enough for the Lord to smile upon me.
So this Christmas, I am making a vow. I will strive to be like that little drummer boy every day - to give of myself and to do the very best I can. And at the end of the day, isn't that the greatest gift any of us can offer?