(Written over the course of a December where Christmas plans were canceled twice in heartbreaking fashion.)
It's quiet around here. Anticipation is still high, but not like the glory days of grade school where sleep was considered an enemy. No, those days started fading away three years ago. Or was it four? I don't really remember. Regardless, we will indeed celebrate and celebrate big this year because family is always worth celebrating. Jesus is always worth celebrating.
This Christmas, you may find me staring out my front window at any given moment. I feel like a hypocrite, because a large portion of my life I wondered why this beautiful, joyful season was considered a time of pain and grief for some people. Then, somehow, I became one of those people. At least sometimes.
My default has consistently been to think of Christmas as the time for generosity, lightheartedness, friendship. Where is the room for *those other people*? Only experience has shown me how both find room in the same space: The one where the idea--the ideal--of Christmas is left behind and the entirety of God's promise is received.
There's a spiritual gift God has given all of us this year. I don't mean the ability to prophesy or work miracles, but I mean the ability to see what God has been telling each of us for the last twelve months. How was He working? What story was He writing? I know it's been written well, but I want to read it well.
Knowing my tendency to misinterpret, here's hints at a couple of my own chapters:
Though it's not where I expected to be, to see myself only as "alone" in the narrowest sense of the word is to ignore the most precious gifts God has given me this season. Because I alone get to celebrate the affection and smiles of my children as they open their gifts. Only I get to witness the day-to-day unfolding of their lives. They look to me to walk beside them on this journey. I'm one in eight billion and it's an honor.
And I was the one who prayed that God would keep me from a "boring life." (And I still think you should pray like that.) I asked to be tested. I put my life God's hands to go wherever He would take me. More than any prayer I've ever prayed, I know He heard that one.
I want those prayers to lead me to a deeper place than just a therapeutic exercise of "re-framing." I want it to be an acknowledgment of the blessings I've been given and the ones on the way. I truly want to see it as part of a carefully crafted story. Not ignoring grief or heartbreak but understanding the built-in benefits of the life I've been privileged to live.
Every ending is the opportunity for a new beginning, and I want to celebrate a day of brand-new mercies. I want to embrace every good and perfect gift God has for me. Those gifts point back to the gift of a Child born on that one silent night. It was a gift for all people and God help me not to forget how "all" includes me.
And it includes you.
On these silent nights, sometimes you may struggle to find Him, but He's not struggling to find you. And He will come. He always does.