The One Thing I'm Afraid of This Christmas
Six years ago today I was barely going through the motions on a day I would never forget. A day I never thought would come. The day when two were torn apart and only I remained.
I pondered for weeks what I would wear to my divorce. Black seemed appropriate. The death of my marriage required somber attire. Black sweater. Black patent belt. Black boots with heals clicking across the linoleum floor in the courtroom as I testified (against my will) that my marriage was "irretrievably broken."
Tears rolling down and falling into my lap, collecting on my skirt and nearly preventing me from seeing the strange man who used to be my husband sitting calmly across the room. In a mere twenty minutes in the no fault state of Wisconsin a judge can end your thirteen year relationship without so much as an "I'm sorry for your loss".
It's been exactly six years since December 13, 2011. My divorce just had to be around the holidays, right? As if I'm not cynical enough already, now a dark cloud hangs over December like a curtain of despair. Every year clouding my perspective and creating a fingers-on-the-chalkboard mentality for all things promoting too much cheer.
My Grinch-like tendencies reign over once enjoyable holiday moments like cutting down the tree, putting up the tree, and staring at the tree in awe of the shimmering lights and glittering tinsel. But nothing is ever the way it used to be. I try to accept and enjoy the way things are now; in the "after life". But it's not easy.
You know what my biggest fear is at Christmas this year?
I'm afraid I'll never see things the way God does.
I'm afraid I'll never quite have the perspective that Jesus has about my circumstances. That I'll always be cynical and jaded.
For the last five years I've excused myself and chalked this all up to grieving my loss and making it through the holidays in any way necessary.
Bah! Humbug! I say.
Christmas is just one more day to survive. I say.
I'm just lucky I have all the things I do have. I say.
Things will be better next year. I say.
Empty self talk that never really gets to the heart issue. My lack of perspective. My distrust in God's capacity to satisfy my needs. The unrest in circumstances that are out of my control. The regret that permeates my heart and hijacks my best intentions to press on. To see beyond myself. To understand who Jesus really is and trust in His plan.
In Luke chapter 1, Mary hastily rises upon hearing from the angel Gabriel that her older- and formerly barren- cousin Elizabeth is miraculously in her sixth month of pregnancy.
If I'm Elizabeth, I cannot wait to tell Mary MY amazing news. After all, it's all about me, right? Instead, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaims,
Luke 1:42-43- "Blessed are YOU among women, and blessed is the fruit of YOUR womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"
Elizabeth has experienced a miracle of her own. She is finally going to be a mother after years of infertility and shame, and yet all she can proclaim is how good God is to bless Mary. Elizabeth even describes the baby in Mary's womb as "my Lord" going as far as trusting that this incarnation is absolutely the coming of the true Lord.
It's not all about Elizabeth. It's about Emmanuel. God is with these faithful women and God is with us today. It's not about what they have (or don't have). It's not about who they are. It's all about who HE is and how HE has come. The Holy Spirit impressed upon Elizabeth that the Messiah was amongst them. The baby Jesus would be the Savior of the world.
And this is good. This is the fulfillment of the promises God made to His people.
Not only does Elizabeth realize the gravity of Mary's situation, she can instantly see how Mary's faith and submission to God's plan for her will result in abundant and undeniable blessings.
Luke 1:45- "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."
When we believe that Jesus will fulfill His promises we are indeed blessed. We are indeed cared for and comforted in our pain. We can trust the One who came on our behalf. The baby in the manger; our perfect Savior.
On December 13, 2011 when I became a divorced woman- forever marked by an identity I did not want- Jesus spoke His promises straight into my heart:
Psalm 91:9-12, 14-16- Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place- the Most High, who is my refuge- no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.
"Because she holds fast to me in love, I will deliver her; I will protect her, because she knows my name. When she calls to me, I will answer her; I will be with her in trouble; I will rescue her and honor her. With long life I will satisfy her and show her my salvation."
I may not always be the most cheerful of holiday celebrators, but I do believe that God is with me. Emmanuel has never left and will never cease to seek relationship with me in spite of my doubts and failures. In spite of my cynicism He shows me His salvation every day.
No need to fear this holiday season.
Perspective comes when we purposefully examine our hearts.
Perspective comes when we allow the Holy Spirit to wash over us- like Elizabeth- and see the miracle coming of our Lord.
Perspective comes when we commit to seeing the good and just Lord walking alongside us every step of our troubled path.
Won't you join me this Christmas in seeking to see the best in God's glorious plans and His promised presence?
Merry Christmas friends!!
Luke 2:8-12- And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, "FEAR NOT, for behold, I bring you GOOD NEWS of GREAT JOY that will be for ALL the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."