We drove away from my parents' house on Christmas Eve and I warned my husband I would probably cry all week. The tears started before we even hit the highway and I told him I was devastated that we were leaving Olivia behind. She is buried under an olive tree, made the move with us in November, and seems more like a little girl than last Christmas. I've started calling her "Liv" and she's in my thoughts more than usual this past year and all of a sudden, she was staying in Texas while we celebrated with family in Arkansas. I miss her something fierce lately. I set the kids' table last night and there were four little square plastic plates - one extra - and my heart broke as I put it back in the buffet.
Does Christmastime feel broken for you?
My single girlfriends are probably distracted by tinsel and a new DIY from Pinterest but I have a feeling it's another day of wondering why Mr. Right hasn't appeared with mistletoe. I think about my friends who still aren't pregnant and stare at the stockings of little nieces and nephews wondering if maybe, just maybe next year there will be an extra one, hanging with care. Were you hoping for something at Christmas of 2012 that still hasn't happened? Are you emptied of all hope? Are you becoming all too familiar with disappointment?
I'm not going to preach to you that everything is going to be fixed over the next twelve months (or nine months, as the case may be). I'm not going to flash a neon sign of happiness and elves dancing and tell you that all your greatest dreams are just around the corner. Some of us have a hard road ahead of us. Many of us will find great heartache in 2014. We will suffer loss, death, disappointment, and devastation.
Christmas doesn't solve the problem, it just distorts the mess and the glory. It exaggerates it on some sides and covers it up with twinkle lights and bows on the other.
So in the midst of American culture during the month of December, we are confused and befuddled by a baby born in a manger. A baby boy who had skin and toenails, who teethed and coo'ed, and who taught us every step of the way that humanity can hold the tangible presence of God right alongside the worst kind of heartache. There is no need to dismiss our grief and emptiness on a day of celebration. Instead, we should find comfort in the mysterious way the glory of God presses itself up against our heartache. Some days we will find that when our grief meets the balm of His gospel, it is healed and gone. Other days, the grief will tremble and crack and remind us of pain and suffering. The hardest days will find our grief standing strong and willing itself toward independence. However we respond, God's plan of pursuing you is not offended - He is quite intent on displaying unfathomable goodness. I pray that your heart will be found more tender than usual today and I pray that you would relate to the humanity of Jesus as grief clutches your heart.
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”
C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe