Religion Magazine

A Life Overseas – ‘Tis the Season of Incongruity

By Marilyngardner5 @marilyngard
A Life Overseas – ‘Tis the Season of Incongruity Deck the halls with calls for charity! Fa-la-la-la-laaa, la-la-la-la! 'Tis the season of incongruity! Fa-la-la-la-laaa, la-la-la-la! #CottageChristmas or starving children? Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la! My heart is caught and I cannot win this thing! Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-laa.

I don't know about you, but I can't do this. The sense of incongruity is overwhelming me this Christmas. I go from essays and photos of unbelievable beauty to my current reality, which includes messy, messy relationships, rain and mud up to my knees, no sign of Christmas lights and beauty,and long, long hours of no electricity.

I scroll through Instagram and the abundance of beauty is eye-popping. Pristine cottages bedecked with lights and color and living rooms with soft lights and all white furnishings with that splash of red and green color that just makes them pop. And then in the next picture, I catch my breath as I see a starving child in Yemen and an organization begging the world to take notice. I breathe fire as I see another picture reminding me of the never-ending war in Syria and the continued devastation on people. And it hits home as I take my own pictures here in Kurdistan and I am reminded that there aren't enough resources to meet the needs of the population, honor killings are still part of the landscape, and we can barely get funds for a single project.

'Tis the season of incongruity - the season where the contrast feels too stark and I don't feel like I have the ability to cope with these conflicting images.

And yet...

And yet, God's story has always been a story of conflicting images. There is the image of the manger and the image of the cross, the image of judgement and the image of mercy, the image of truth and the image of grace. What I am seeing and feeling is nothing new to God.

God came into a world of contrasts. A world of the beauty and the broken. He came in a way that was so gentle, so unassuming - how could a baby threaten anyone? He came into a setting that was the height of incongruity - a king in a manger. For 33 years he lived as one who is unknown, going through daily life as we do - an image that is so mind boggling I stop thinking about it. We are told that he set aside greatness and "humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death" - a violent, horrific death. And then, the glorious resurrection and the words that we live by every single day: "He is not here! He is risen!"

My heart longs for peace and harmony in a world of broken incongruity. Read the rest of the piece here.


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