I cannot write about "that" because it's not my story to tell. I cannot write about "that” either because it is too much and I am not sure if I can share that part of me. Why does it matter if I do? Who reads "this" anyway?
This is me, talking to You. Being broken open, communicating with You in the only way I know how. God, are we broken?
As I type those three words "are-we-broken" my head involuntarily nods. Affirmation, we.are.broken. I don't understand this place I am in, where I am at. This year has been upside down and if you told me I would be here, this time last year I would have called you a liar! It's nuts. The more I consider writing what my mind wants to speak the more my voice says, "this is nuts!"
Ladies and gentlemen, this is nuts!
Do you ever talk to God that way? I do, I have been... since April. Since I quit my job, my career path, left it all behind to work part-time and make sure I am the best mom I can be for my kids. Not an absent one, not one who misses moments... but one who is there. And that's not me criticizing moms who work... their kids will grow up just fine, happy, and loved as mine. Their experiences are just different, their paths are different. My friends who work and raise kids are amazing; I was one of them for almost 10 years. I am so blessed to know them, to cheer them on from the "bench" and to be cheered on by them as well.
I was just burdened, knowing where I was and who I was didn't quite fit anymore. Call it what you will, a mid-life crisis, going off the deep-end... whatever... I suppose it feels just like that. To have goals and that measurable yard stick which keeps you reaching, striving and climbing higher as if it matters, and it does matter. There is good work being done by good people, making a difference in this world and goodness knows I am so proud of them. But somewhere inside of me I knew I didn't belong there anymore. I belonged at home, with them, my littles. Still, almost 8 months later - l don't get it. Why?
Just when I thought He worked on me, stripped me down to bare bones... Captured my pride, took my identity, cast me off and left me in quiet places, yelling at him alone; he chose to go deeper.
While most people are looking forward on this second day of January 2017, I cannot help but look back at the crazy year that has passed.
I think it hit me most during the Holiday season. From November on I felt like we were behind, always one week behind... in everything. I was stretched too thin, allowing committees, friendships and commitments dictate my schedule. My husband too, was all over the map doing all the good he does and before we knew it, we were one week before Christmas still trying to find time to put our own tree up. Sometimes I teased and other times I threatened that we would not have a tree this year but rather a drawing of one in chalk where our normal tree would stand... A chalk line, as if some crime had been committed - can you imagine?
Christmas was not my version of Christmas and I am finding that as I get older, it becomes less and less of what I "know". This year was no exception.
Not only did we have the great Christmas tree debate, "to be or not to be"; Christmas was also leaner this year, leaner than I care for it to be... and that's all in my mind, what I envision "should" be is also where my mind starts down the slippery slope of doom. Think Bob Cratchit meets Thomas Kinkade and there you have it folks... my Christmas' past complete with my uncle on the piano singing ole Christmas Carols and our family’s rendition of 12 Days of Christmas. All those windows have gone dark, fallen victim to real family feuds and the passing of my grandfather... Oh and the addictions in there that affected one too many lives. But before all that... Christmas was a happy time. I used to want all of that for my kiddos, tried to make it happen but it never did - not in that same way. I gave up that Christmas ghost a long time ago and since we have had made it our own...
I am just going to be honest with you right now, Christmas still didn't look like it normally does. Everything was just off... as I type these words I realize how selfish that sounds... as I remember her face; my friend. A wonderful mother, wife, sister, friend to all those that knew her who missed yet another Christmas; those who love her, their Christmas' will never look the same. The mother missing her child again this Christmas, her Christmas will never be the same. And the widow, Christmas' haven't looked normal in 10 years. SELFISH I AM. Still, I will travel down this road because it's the story that I have been writing in my head for weeks.
BUT. God is good and He does things when we least expect it.
Sometime, within this season, at some point my heart shifted from wanting everything to be the same, meeting the expectations that I usually have, that God, Himself, reminded me so many very important things and suddenly I was seeing Christmas in snippets, like little movie clips and Christmas went from a desire I had to CHRISTmas... the desire He had... love come down, lowly, and for all.
My daughter started the reel. She took some extra money she had and went shopping, Black Friday shopping with her Grammy. She bought presents with her money for her little friends at school, for her brother and for her daddy and me. She had Joy in giving... in the shopping, considering and pouring out of herself and her small finances to love those who love her.
Weeks later, in the middle of folding laundry on the couch, cleaning rooms and running a load of dirty dishes in the dishwasher my son enters the room humming Mary Did You Know and proceeds to tell me that it is his favorite song because, "Mom, it's the whole reason... the whole reason for Christmas"; CHRIST come down... be still my ever-beating heart.
Fast forward weeks later and only days before Christmas we (the kids and I) were doing some last-minute shopping at Target and a scene played out in front of my eyes which caught my breath, stopped me in my tracks and made me cry... cry the ugly cry in between the card section and the IPods... just before the Legos...
I watch, witnessed, love so profound I dared not interrupt. This man, mid-forties, walks down the aisle I am in, being guided by his son. His son, maybe 15 or 16 is holding him by the elbow and upper arm. Dad is blind, holding his walking cane in an upright position. Dad is trusting his son. I hear his son describe to his father the things around them as they walk... but not just in a manner of this is here and that is there... he was describing things as if he was seeing for his father. As they walked past me, I was moved. I grabbed the cards I needed and moved to press on with my shopping. Rounding a corner with my kids I came across the man and his son again... this time both father and son were bent and both had their hands out, heads down and hands cupping a pop-up Christmas card as if it was a treasure. They were both laughing and the son was placing his father’s fingers on various parts of the card, again, describing in detail what the card said, how it looked and they were laughing... full bellied laughing as if no one was around. Love profound, Love come down... Love humbled low.
That is where... my friends... I lost my wits and cried. My children stunned at their mom, could not stop looking at me, rubbing my arm, asking me if I am ok... nope... kids... mommy's not.
That same morning, we were visiting the widow, my beautiful grandmother. I had to give the kids instructions on how to behave, what they could ask for and what they couldn't. I had to prepare them for what they might see, how this visit might go and I had tears again... because you just never know when this might be the last. They were so amazing, these kids that we've raised. They loved and cared for. They sat with and next to. They loved just as much as I love. Her memory is not what it used to be and often do we answer the same question for her, to comfort her, to quiet her, to help her understand... and yet she shared stories we'd never heard. Stories of my dad, my papa... Her Christmas memories. I rubbed her arm, held her precious hand and remembered this moment, burned into my soul. More overflowing of love, come down and poured out... broken.
Finally, I picked up a book over Christmas as a gift for someone so very close to me; The Broken Way, by Ann Voskamp. I got it for her, to heal parts of her soul broken and beat up by the world and yet, I cannot put it down.
It's like that nudge in church, you know, where the pastor is preaching and you are "Amen-ing" the stuff the preacher is saying as you nudge your spouse, mother, mother-in-law, sister, brother or "that" friend you dragged with you to church; nudging them because this sermon, you are convinced, was written for "them". While you sit nodding in agreement, missing the notion that the sermon is for you; specifically written and tied up in a bow with a seal meant for you to crack open.
That's me with this book, the one "for my friend" to heal her broken and battered soul, has split me down the middle, found the ache I didn't know I carried and asked me to dig a little deeper with my faith.
There is a cross in my future, I just know it... there was a cross in my past too... and there is one daily I must find... Past, present, and future.
And that's what CHRISTmas was... it was in the small moments, the quiet moments... it was in the giving, the pouring out. It was in the brokenness because that's what Christmas is --- love come down, love bent low, love humbled Himself to be born a babe, to grow, to be tempted and tried... to hang on a cross... the one I must pick up and carry daily. That is what CHRISTmas was.
As I turn my eyes from the past and look at 2017 with its wide-open possibilities I carry all this with me and cannot wait for what is to come.