Where are you, Christmas? Why can’t I find you? Why have you gone away? My world is changing, I’m rearranging. Does that mean Christmas changes too?
Eight years ago, I experienced my first Christmas as a widow. The season of raising children, celebrating holidays with family traditions, and living in that comfortable rhythm of life was over. I struggled to find my equilibrium, held in the loving arms of Jesus. My children were a tremendous support even though I know they felt as displaced as I did. Then Christmas of 2009, I seemed to be at my lowest point, as over time reality had descended on me like a fog. That’s when I found the words of the song that Cindy Lu Who sang in “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” so fitting.
Where are you, Christmas? Do you remember the girl you used to know? You and I were so carefree; now nothing’s easy. Did Christmas change or just me?
The Lord spoke to me that Christmas in the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:18-19. And in February 2010, I met Mark. We knew immediately God had brought us together. We fell in love and were married four-and-a-half months later. The new thing had begun! The Lord has us on quite an adventure together with our ministry calling and our move to Texas in the summer of 2014, leaving children and grandchildren behind. Only the Lord could make that happen.
Christmastime often evokes feelings of happiness and sadness at the same time. Now in 2015, I’m thrilled to be in our new little house in Waco. But the last several days I have found myself emotionally in a similar place. “My world is changing, I’m rearranging…..You and I were so carefree; now nothing’s easy. Did Christmas change or just me?” Still searching for my place. It was easy to know my place during the years I was a wife and mom, a court reporter, and then a Nana. I probably didn’t even have time to reflect on it! I think in my heart I keep looking for what can never be again, isn’t supposed to be.
The truth is life is change-we can’t stop time. To everything there is a season, as is written in Ecclesiastes. As I sought the Lord, he showed me a new aspect of the well-known Scripture, Luke 9:23-24. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find his very self.”
Whoever wishes to save his life….what does that mean? The Lord showed me that to try to preserve that which makes me feel safe is trying to save my life and keeps me from being with him in the present. What does it mean to “lose my life for his sake”? He showed me it means to let go. To let go of anything I look to from the past to make me feel okay. To deny myself by giving up control, which is really only the illusion of control, to the only One who will save me and continue saving me.
Truly, feelings of loss and the ache to fill that void is at heart a yearning of what is complete and perfect love, and that is found only in Jesus. Losing my life means taking every thought, every feeling of sorrow, every ache or yearning to him and letting him replace my natural emotions with the supernatural fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
So the answer is no, Christmas hasn’t changed. Christmas has never been about comfort and traditions or the things of man. Christmas is about the birth of a baby, the Christ child, the Savior, the hope of the world. And the more I press into him, the more the past will lose its power to steal my peace. Jesus, fix my eyes on you, the One who knew me in my mother’s womb, the One who knows me now, the One who knows who I will be when I am made perfect on the day I see you face to face. Thank you for patiently loving me while I cycle through these emotions again. Thank you that you continually are doing “a new thing”! Help me to step into all that you have for me in the present. Amen.