This is how I feel about the Christmas Season right now: weary but rejoicing … hopeful!!
Christmas will be different for us this year, for sure. We are in a completely different place – not just physically in a new location but emotionally and spiritually. Kind of uncharted territory – we don’t really “belong” anywhere yet, and the memory of what we left behind is still fresh – to include many good things like a comfortable house that was ours alone – no shared walls, no cramped spaces – and the familiar friends who we trusted and were able to be ourselves with, and the programs that we went to Christmas after Christmas … the familiar that was our life for many years. It is gone. And that’s ok … it was our choice. But we still miss it.
But as we close out 2013 and get more and more acquainted with our new world, our new surroundings, there is a THRILL OF HOPE. There are good things here and good people. It is probably just up to us to reach out again, to trust a little more, to be open to it all.
The hope is there because we have JESUS. We have a new church family full of very kind, very sincere, very real people – one that is like nothing we’ve experienced in a past. One that focuses on love and grace and the inner heart of man – more than the outward appearance. It is just something we have to continue to feel out and be open to a different way of thinking, of worshipping, of conducting services. And over all, we like it … we are just slow and cautious. Scared of the unfamiliar; unyielding to change but open to it at the same time. Hard to explain.
My volunteer job in the school kitchen has opened me up to some interesting people who give me perspective … my own neighbors in the shared duplex have challenged me beyond my comfort zone. And God continues to chisel at my heart – filling the holes with Himself, chipping away at the ugly thoughts and grudges that need to be let go.
Letting go … I’ve mentioned before that it isn’t easy for me.
Recently I have been working in the kitchen with the school administrator’s wife as she has come back to work now that her 23 year old son has passed away (after a long battle with brain tumors/cancer). She has shared a lot of their journey with me – and a lot of the lessons she learned from losing a child … from “letting him go”. Because that, she says, is what helped her the most to go through this process! When she’d give her son to God, over and over, to whatever God’s will was, it was then that she felt God’s grace and peace the most – that a BIG GOD had it all under control. People at our church apparently got mad or frustrated with her sometimes because when they prayed with her, she didn’t pray and beg God for healing and restoration for her son – while of course, that is what she wanted most too – but she just prayed to be able to accept whatever God knew was best, even if that meant her son dying.
I once had a similar conversation with my husband after a sermon we heard about “God’s will”. What exactly IS God’s will –and how do we know it?! And my husband’s very simple answer was “acceptance”. If this is what God has given you – or allowed, for example, as hard consequences to a poor choice – then it isn’t our privilege to fight against Him.
We just yield, accept, trust. If we want His joy, that is. We can fight and kick and scream and try to force our way; believe me, I’ve tried it. But it usually doesn’t work out very well. Sometimes we get our way, but often, at least in my life, God has had something better in mind. He has forced me to have to do the hard things and the uncomfortable things. But it is during those times that I’ve grown – often a process that begins with being angry and frustrated then depressed and full of self-pity – and finally, usually, when I’m in my right mind, then it lead to acceptance and peace. Rest for the weary, finally! (Why didn’t I just give up in the first place??!)
So, yes, Christmas will be different for us this year … but a GOOD different. The focus can’t be on lavish gifts or fancy, new decorations … while there are a few programs and concerts to attend, activities … it is all new. Full of hope. Promises that 2014 is waiting, fresh and new before us – that God had a plan and will continue to fulfill it.