“Christmas is a time you get homesick, even when you’re at home,” Carol Nelson.
I wouldn’t have understood that statement a few years ago.
I wouldn’t have understood how your heart can become tender and wistful and nostalgic and yet, not desolate. I roll sweet memories around in my mind like hard candy in my mouth. And, like hard candy, the texture and presence of our loved ones disappear but the sweetness lingers.
Last night, the very first prayer of the candlelight service was for those who are hurting.
I’ve always been mindful that this is a difficult season for people. I’ve just never before been the one hurting.
This season has made my heart especially tender for a variety of reasons. It’s not just one thing. It started with the war we are waging. (On that front, James 1 is coming to fruition.)
My youngest son graduated from college and is earnestly seeking a job in Australia. He told me, “Mom, you raised us to be world travelers.” So, what did I expect?
We’ve witnessed conflict between some very dear friends.
My dad is declining with each month.
In trying to follow God’s calling and further my education for marriage ministry, I've respectfully cleared my plate of a couple of obligations. Some people aren’t happy with me.
And, I miss my mom. It’s been 6 Christmases since she left for heaven and this is the first one where I have felt her absence keenly. Each nursing home I sang at this season brought mom and dad to the forefront of my mind. We sang at a dozen.
Looking at this on paper, it seems trivial. However, for me, processing so much transition and hurt in a short span overwhelmed my heart. I lost my center.
I’ve felt like a top spinning off kilter. Mr. Muscle has been incredibly supportive and even-natured toward me in spite of my mood swings. There was nothing he could do to help me, I had to find my own way to the true center of gravity.
Last night, Jesus whispered his presence to my heart at the candlelight service. I found my center.
Jesus came into this world as a tender babe. He knows ache when we feel lonely, misunderstood or even betrayed. He knows the ache of physical separation from loved ones. He knows being overwhelmed by circumstances and tenderness of heart. And yet, he still loves fiercely.
He doesn’t turn away from pain and neither should I. Sometimes, you need to lean into it and work through it.
That’s my center. Jesus’ fierce love. Jesus’ love doesn’t mean you won’t hurt. Jesus’ love means when you hurt, you have hope. The hope I cling to is that he'll see me through this. I'll be better on the other side.
He’s already shown me hope. I am amazed that Mr. Muscle and I have grown through this season.
We’ve grown by getting back to basics.
Praying and Bible reading and sharing our hearts.
For years, we have been praying over morning coffee. Now, this has changed to be a prayer from our hearts and not just rote. We both speak. We also read daily passages from heartlight.org (Spiritfire is my favorite.)
I have worked hard to identify emotions and not just say, “I’m fine.”
Being a woman, you’d think this wouldn’t be a problem. However, letting negative emotions bubble to the surface and identify them is difficult. I paste on the happy-face like nobody’s business. Acknowledging I don’t have to be the ‘Sunshine Lady’ is incredibly freeing. It’s OK to feel and act blah. But, I mustn’t treat anyone unkindly because I don’t feel so wonderful.
Thankfully, bedroom communication has not been a point of contention. Having tools in place regarding this sensitive and important area makes navigating my difficult season easier.
There's going to be sour notes in the hard candy of life, but the sweetness lingers.
That’s the hope of Jesus’ fierce love. My center is regained by leaning my whole being on the great sweet gifts Jesus left to me (and you!). The gift of his birth, death and resurrection was followed by the comforter, the Holy Spirit.
The Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit just keep on giving. Amazed, I receive these gifts humbly. I thank Him by singing His praise and giving Him all the glory for being my center.
“In between where we are and where we hope to be, our Savior steps right in and declares, I AM the way, the truth and the life,” Lysa Terkeurst.
A Prayer for my beautiful friends:
Dear Heavenly Father, May the light of the world, who you sent to become flesh, fill the hearts of my friends with fierce and tender love.
I pray that they are blessed with the warmth of child-like exuberance as you work your wonders in their lives.
May we all glow with child-like anticipation and acceptance in the answers you have for our prayers.
May we be as guileless as little children in our love and praise of you Holy Father.
Thank you for the gift of our Savior and for the gift of the Holy Spirit. May He work powerfully in our lives!
In Jesus’ name, Amen.