Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Reflections of Christmas

As I prayed for God to take me straight through these holidays, I asked him also to open my eyes to something new about Him this season. So before I go and finish the last minute preparations, I wanted to slow down and think about what He has shown me. Nothing too profound here - just some ramblings about what He's been teaching me. Never before have I been so keenly aware of Christmas. The smells, the scenes, and the lights. The words to all the songs I'm so familiar with, yet have heard in such a new way. The smiles on kid's faces. The Bible passages read so often. Yes there is something about Christmas.

As I wrote earlier, when the holidays arrived, I somewhat stiff-armed them. Then once I surrendered that I really was going to have to go through these holidays without Brock, I allowed the grief to wash over me in such an intense way again. Everyone had warned me, "Oh, the first holidays are really hard!" I didn't see how they could get much harder. Besides, only a month after Brock died, we were faced with his 3rd Birthday and then Easter. But I was wrong. It was so intense, the emotion felt much like those first few days and weeks after Brock died. Yet, this time we were functioning at a much higher level in life. I wish someone had told me to clear my calender so I would just have time to sit and process my emotions. I began asking myself "What is it about the Holidays?!

The first of December I heard singer/songwriter Kim Hill speak at our Women's Christmas Event. She said that the Holidays seem to illumine what is not 'right' in our lives. It illuminates what or who is missing in our life." I sat there and thought.... that is it. That is what makes the Holidays so hard. It is that time of year when everything is supposed to be perfect. Everything is supposed to be just as we planned it or dreamed it would be. Just like the song says it is the most wonderful time of the year, right? Not if you are living with something that is not "right" in your life. I learned early on that my thinking of this not being the way I had planned out my life was really me saying I wanted to be in control. Not really but this would not have been the way I would have written it. But God is soverign and it is His plan. His thoughts are profound. His thoughts are not my thoughts, His ways are not my ways.

My loss this year has been significant, yet all of us have losses. I heard it described that a loss is anything that makes you say "Oh no, not this, not now." Once I began recognizing the illuminaition of my hurt, I accepted it and was able to tell the Lord just how bad it hurt and allow Him to shine His healing light in those places.

The first of the month was filled with many social occasions. Do we have overachieving friends, or do you also feel like all the parties and events happen the first two weeks of December? My calendar was filled with many things just like yours. When it was approaching the 8th of December and my decorations were not up, I started thinking I needed to stay at home and get things in order. The Lord gently reminded me that relationships are what Christmas is about. You see it was not the Christmas House event but the dear friend I had lunch with to celebrate my birthday. It was about the hugs I received from the women I greeted at the Women's Event at church as they each whispered in my ear they were praying for me. It is about the friendships formed 19 years ago in college, not about the dinner we were eating together. It is about the honor of being Mama as I melted into the pew as I watched Barrett and Asa sing in the church choir programs and Mason light the advent candle. It is about sharing deeply and still being loved with a small group of Bible study ladies, not the Starbucks coffee we drank. It is about feeling so loved from friends going out of their way to be clever and not even wanting the credit for what they've done. God has reminded me how precious relationships are. Where there is real love and real relationship, life is meaningful. God made us for relationships...with Him and others. When we have such deep hurt in our life we tend to retreat. This produces isolation and seperation. Two things that would make the enemy happy. But when we have true fellowship with others, it actually helps us in our relationhip of walking with the Lord. I've thought several times about Rick Warren's book, The Purpose Driven Life. It has been a while, but I remember him saying that we act like relationships are somethig we squeeze into our schedules when they literally are our life.

That first Christmas was all about relationship. You see Jesus was with God when the stars were put into place and the earth was formed. Yet that first Christmas he left His perfect home in Heaven as King to come as a helpless baby. It is there that our relationship begins... adoring a baby. His soft cuddley skin. His sweet sounds. His wide eyed look of dependence on two young parents. This was the beginning of Him laying His glorious life in Heaven down to experience the life we have here on earth. One with hurts and pains. One that He would experience all so that when we hurt He would know how we feel. He came so that He could bridge the gap between us - the wrong doers - and the Holy God. He came to show us what God looks like, so that we could have a relationship with the Creator of the universe. He came so that He could call us friend. He came because He loves the broken hearted. It was that same body from that first Christmas that hung on a cross thirty three years later for all our sins. The same blood in the baby that first Christmas poured down the cross as He moaned in agony when He took on our sins. This Christmas my relationship with Jesus means more to me than any other gift. His coming as a baby, later dying on the cross and rising to heaven means that I will one day see my baby again. He conquered death. So did Brock. So will I. In Luke, Zechariah is prophesising about Jesus. He says in vs. 78 "....because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the path of peace." That is the shadow of death. More than any other year I know that baby in that manger came on that Holy Night just for me. I thank Him for the peace He is giving me as He is holding me close this Christmas Eve.

He came just for you too. If you don't know Him, please email me. I would love to introduce you to Him.


Anonymous said...

God bless you Nita! For sharing the Good News even as you grieve. I just know that God is so proud of you! You and your crew are in my prayers this morning.

Paige S.

Anonymous said...

Nita, Your blog is amazing; you have truly blessed me with your entries. I have mixed emotions about this since it is you pouring your feelings into this and me receiving the blessing. However, I still want to tell you how much I appreciate you sharing this. You really are a very special person with a very special family! Cheryl Harris