Gosh, I can’t believe its been over a month since I have posted anything. I haven’t been very “inspired” if you will, or thinking very deeply I guess. I miss that. But, life keeps going whether we dwell in the deep things or not, doesn’t it?
As of tomorrow, I can rest. I know that might seem strange to say as we head into the holidays but… it is sure going to feel like rest to me! The past two weeks have been full of writing, studying, and house purging/cleaning. By tomorrow at 10am, I will be DONE!! My 30 page paper is turned in for one class, and tomorrow is the final for my other class. They took pictures to put the house on the market today, and I just finished doing the little bit of decorating that I am going to do this season. So… to kick off the Christmas season, tomorrow night I’m headed to Denver to see “A Christmas Carol”. Let the festivities begin!
I will warn you, this is more of a stream of thought kind of post tonight… I can’t say I have any great theological thoughts right now. My brain is a bit mushy after all the studying. But here goes.
I remember someone telling me last year that the first year after a loss is the hardest. I have been watching my life, paying attention to the markers and waiting for that first year to be over. I have found that, as many of you already know – grief shows up in the strangest places – and all you can do is give in, let it run through your mind and emotions and feel what you need to feel – and then you can move on. I have done that many times since last October, over some very odd things. That being said, I am keenly aware that as I head into December, I have to choose joy and remember how thankful I am for the small things – like the fact that my girls are doing well: Maddie has moved to her own place and just got hired on as an EMT (yes!!!!), and Maia will move into her own apartment in Fort Collins after break. Needless to say, the house is more empty than it has been in a whle. It feels weird sometimes. But I will choose Joy.
I can’t not think about how different this Christmas will be from last. This time last year, I was having panic attacks. Jon and I were trying to figure out how to make the holidays “normal” when we had just told the kids about the divorce. It was hard to hold onto traditions and keep joy in anything. The one thing I remember that felt normal is that he and Maia and I all drove to look at the Broadmoor lights and blasted the Christmas music in the car. They harmonized all the way, we laughed, and it felt normal for about an hour. In my head, all I could think was “Lord, I’m sure we have just ruined Christmas for the girls for the rest of their lives. You have GOT to redeem this holiday for them.”
The irony of that statement is not lost on me.. of course He can redeem the holiday. It’s his anyway. But what do I mean by redeem? The Collins online dictionary says that if a situation is redeemed, it makes it “not so bad”. I think this has a piece of what I’m getting at, only “not so bad” isn’t my idea of something being redeemed at all. I mean restore to wholeness. Take it back to what it was, or make it new, with new joy, new traditions. New everything. That is what I want for them.. for all of us. And I am not naive, I know this Christmas will be hard in a lot of ways. We’ll all have to face that – but I am not afraid.
“The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Matt 4:16, Isaiah 9:2)
I know sometimes this is quoted at Christmas to talk about the light that came into the world when Jesus was born. It’s actually used by Matthew when Jesus begins to preach in Capernaum, but the truth still holds. I’m sure its also no coincidence that it is used in preaching when we are headed into the darkest season of the year either. That somehow, in the darkest of times, we want to remind ourselves at Christmas that its the reality and light of God-in-the-flesh that brings hope for our lives. Hope for what? That things will all work out? That we won’t hurt any more? That we can finally get a job, or mend a relationship, heal from our sickness or find healing of our hearts? Hope that we are actually loved by a God that is bigger than us, whose mercy and grace is even more than what everyone has told us?
Yes to all of that. Yes.
Yet if you think of the usage of the word “dawned” – its not a light switch type thing. It’s a slow recognition. Something that takes a while to open our eyes to… that the God of this universe of ours has not forgotten His promise to live with us. That He is not far off. That He is faithful in his love in a way no human can ever be.
So as you head into your Christmas traditions, no matter whether they are old or new, whether you have a ton of folks to celebrate with or you are alone – I encourage you to take time to let something about God and His love for you dawn on you this season. There is holiness in the quiet if we will listen, there is mercy all around us if we will just open our eyes. May the One who walked this earth be strong for you this Christmas, and may you let him hold your heart, no matter where it finds itself.
Now.. guess I better finish studying. 😊
“Choosing joy” still feels like a mystery to me.
In John 15 Jesus talks about being the vine. After he explains he says, “I say these things that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
Yep. Still a mystery.