Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. I enjoy the bright decorations and plates of cookies. I enjoy shopping for the perfect gift and anticipating the joy of the receiver. I love the secrets, cards, snow, and time with family. I love the enthusiasm of my kids as they shop for each other and how we always fill a stocking for Molly, our lovable oaf of a dog.
Perhaps I had warm, fuzzy Christmases as a child. Perhaps I watch too many Hallmark movies, or maybe I’m just happy and Christmas is one more reason for me to be cheerful.
This year is different. I am not happy, cheerful, nor excited.
How is it even possible that Christmas has come anyway? Why didn’t time stand still when my life did? How can I go through all the motions of this holiday and feel nothing?
This year I see Calico Critters on sale and think of how much Rebekah loved to play with them. I flip through the American Girl catalog that still comes in Rebekah’s name and circle the outfits she would choose for her doll. I see sparkly skirts with matching leggings and am tempted to buy them even though she is not here to wear them. I hung her purple stocking in its rightful place between Caleb and Micah and wonder if I should buy a bottle of bright pink nail polish to put in it.
Even beloved songs seem to annoy me, “Joy to the World” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”. How could you possibly be merry? I am not merry. I am not joyful.
Friends are talking about what they are purchasing for their kids. I join in because I have wonderful kids that deserve a good holiday. I listen politely to their talk, but my mind swirls with the thoughts that all I want is my daughter back. No gift, no tradition, no happy memories from years gone by can make this happen.
Some nights I don’t sleep. I lie in bed, snuggled with Mr. Separation Anxiety (also known as Baby Joel) and wish I could make it all better or make all the pain go away. I think about Caleb and how some days he chooses not to talk or think or feel. I think about Micah and how he still speaks of Rebekah in the present tense and Joshua, who is still waiting for her to come home.
One of our family traditions is our casual observance of Hanukkah. Saying the prayers in the warm glow of the candles is a beautiful reminder that our God is all powerful and delivers us in the face of evil. The Jews struggled against evil rulers, persecuted for refusing to bow down to false gods. They rose up and fought for the truth. It was not a quick deliverance. It took time, lives, and strong faith, but in the end they overcame and the true God was glorified.
Isn’t Christmas celebrated as the birth of Christ? The greatest story of hope that exists? The Savior of the world, God with us, come to deliver us from that same evil.
The pain in my heart, my constant mood swings, the physical ache in my head and neck are here to stay. The strong desire to stay in bed and forget that December 25th is even a day on the calendar, is not going away.
There will be no delivering me from them. Not because God wants to see me suffer, but because He is best glorified through our struggle. I am reminded of the crucifixion, a miserable way to die. Without Christ’s suffering and death, we would have no hope, no salvation, no deliverance from this fallen world.
Now that my ramblings have taken on a form (sorry for the distracted journey I brought you all on) I see that hope is what my focus should be.
Hope that God will walk with me through the pain.
Hope that my boys will find happiness.
Hope that my daughter is surrounded by God’s love and in perfect peace.
Hope that I will one day see her and also be filled with that love and peace.
Hope that God has a purpose.
Hope that there is deliverance from pain.
Hope that He will be glorified.
Hope in salvation.
Hope of a resurrection.
This is my wish for you. May each of you find hope this holiday season.