“The school is on lockdown,” the email read.  “Do not call and do not come,” it continued in alarmingly large, bold letters.

I had just stepped out of physical therapy- an hour away from Carson’s school- and my head was spinning.  I knew what a lockdown could mean, and my thoughts jumped to the worse-case scenario.  Per usual.

Rumors and speculations abounded on social media.  Armed teenagers.  A gunman surrounded but not apprehended.  At my baby boy’s school.  No.

“Oh, Lord, protect them all,” is all I could offer up.

The moments that followed as we waited for more news to come were excruciating.  A million questions swirled around in my head as I sped down the interstate toward home.  Toward Carson.  “Is everyone okay?  Are the kids scared?   Is this for real?

By the grace of God, the lockdown was lifted after an hour and a half when an extensive search of the area yielded nothing.  As I read the words “false report”, relief flooded my heart.  Praise flowed from my lips.

And so, naturally, I returned home to scrub grout.

Now, in our home, grout gets scrubbed approximately never.  And when it does, I’m inevitably a hot mess.  Because, for whatever reason, this is my m.o. in epic levels of stress.  It has been for years.  Perhaps it’s something about controlling my external environment when everything else seems out of my control.  Perhaps the vigorous scrubbing provides some therapeutic release.

I don’t know.  But the more I scrubbed yesterday, the more my tears came.  And came.

What if we didn’t get our happy ending today, I wondered.  Why are we the lucky ones?  God, why must we live in a world of so much injustice?  A world in which my six year old is well-versed in lockdown drills?

And on that dirty kitchen floor, God met me where I was.  In my tears and anxiety and general mess.  Reminding me who he is and that he can be trusted.  With my children.  Health.  Finances.  Future.  Because he is all-knowing and all-powerful and all-good.

I’m not talking about trust that a genie-like God will grant our every wish and desire if only we muster up enough faith.  Or that trusting God will always yield the happily ever after ending that we desperately want (and, let’s be real, think we deserve).  I’m talking about knowing that he who calls himself the great I AM is who he says he is.  Can do all that he says he can do.  Belief that this season of Advent- this time of waiting and groaning for hope- actually means something.

“Everything was ready.  The moment God had been waiting for was here at last!  God was coming to help his people, just as he promised in the beginning.  But how would he come?  What would he be like?  What would he do?  Mountains would have bowed down.  Seas would have roared.  Trees would have clapped their hands.  But the earth held its breath.  As silent as snow falling, he came in.  And when no one was looking, in the darkness, he came.” (Sally Lloyd-Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible)

Light into darkness.  God in flesh.  The Savior of the world born in a filthy cattle stall.  Hope against all hope.  Glorious fulfillment of prophecy.

If we were a people who had it all together- who thought we could rock this life effortlessly on our own- this might not mean as much.  I know I can’t, and I have a hunch that you can’t either.  Our restless hearts and wandering eyes are ever searching and grasping for light, especially in the darkest of days.  Days of fear, uncertainty, pain, and brokenness beg for a glimmer of light.  Of hope.

As this Christmas season bounded onto the scene ever so quickly this year, I didn’t know if my weary soul was prepared to handle the festivities.  But the truth of the matter- what I realized in my weepy floor-scrubbing moments yesterday- is that this season is precisely what my weariness needed.  Because the beauty of God made flesh is that he’s been there- he shares in our humanity and knows brokenness.  And he is still with us.  Emmanuel.  God with us.  There’s the hope.

So we stand in solidarity with the lowly shepherds and the robed wise men alike as we confess our need for a Savior and celebrate the hope that stepped right here into the darkness.  Into this jacked-up and yet beautiful world.

A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices…