So, another year has gone by. The holiday season is in full swing, and Christmas is right here. Christmas has always been a very special time for our family. Our kids have blessed us repeatedly over the years by returning to the mother ship, bringing love and laughter. No matter what has happened over the year, Christmas has always given us the chance to reconnect and reconsider all that we have faced as individuals and as a family.
Robert, particularly, would be overjoyed to see his brother and sisters return just to spend time with him. They would cuddle on the sofa, watch holiday movies, play games and, on that special day, open Christmas presents together. I think everyone had the best time watching Robert’s reactions to his presents, never knowing how much he would understand or be able to enjoy the gift. Every year, we would marvel at what unique use he would derive out of every present. It didn’t matter what it was supposed to be. He’d make sure he found his way to have fun with it.
It’s been more than six years now. And there’s a strange emotion, not really knowing what you feel. I sit here with so many folks having a good time, laughing, sharing with each other. I’m glad each of my family members are having a good time together. I don’t envy them; I don’t resent them. It just is. Sometimes, I am alone in my thoughts which go nowhere, because to go somewhere might bring me back to a place of grief. I’m not hiding — just choosing to stay in this place of loss without assessment.
The last 1-2 years have not helped, seeing so many families having to endure the same loss, pain, and grief. Thankfully, I’ve reached the place in time where I no longer actively avoid emotion. Now I can laugh; I can smile without having “eye sweat” all over my face. I can feel moments of lightness, laughter, excitement; it just doesn’t always last, and my heart is not always free to SING.
After this, how do I, how do we move forward? I know many of you have mixed emotions about the holidays. The measure of joy that we all have received from those shared moments of love seems to quantify the sadness we must endure in their absence. The pain we feel is part of the love we received. C.S. Lewis wrote while he was grieving:
“Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.”
I’m forced to consider how can I move past myself and be present in this moment of life and participate in this moment of Christmas with my friends and family. I realize that this is the answer — being present in this moment. I need to recognize that this moment, this interaction will never occur again. What occurred before certainly has become a part of who I am, but it does not solely determine who I will be. Once I recognize that life does go on, I can begin to see the colors that are present rather than being trapped by the grey. Joe Biden has said several times:
“There will come a day, I promise you, when the thought of your son, or daughter, or your wife or your husband, brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. It will happen. My prayer for you is that day will come sooner than later.”
This is a special time for me — this is the first Christmas I will experience with my first grandchild, James. How do I change so I do not miss these special moments that God will provide? I must choose to be blessed, and not refuse the blessing. I must choose to be loved and to love in return. I see my grandson’s joy and innocence and marvel and rejoice in him. His smile freezes time and space and captures my heart. I was never promised to be blessed like this, and I choose to make the most of this opportunity.
There is a time and place for all of us to rejoice, and I hope the Christmas season is that time and place for you. Every one of us have people who love us and are waiting for us to engage. If you feel that no one loves you, choose to love others in your community, your family, your church. We gather what we sow. Choose to sow love to those who need love, and you will reap the joy of the Lord in your life. Christ came to give himself to us and for us and this season reminds us of great joy and love that comes from His gift. I pray this is the season that all of us recognize how blessed we are to both be loved and to have the opportunity to love.
Listening Library: Best Part (Maverick City Music feat. Chandler Moore and Naomi Rayne)
“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm103:13-14 ESV)
“This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven. Dear friends, if this is how God loved us, then we should love one another.”
(1 John 4:10-11 GNT)
“As children copy their fathers you, as God’s children, are to copy him. Live your lives in love—the same sort of love which Christ gives us and which he perfectly expressed when he gave himself up for us in sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2 Phillips)
Wrapped in peace Tied with love With His first breath He rescued us Endless joy to the world Lasting love, so undeserved
What a gift we have in Jesus Unending joy, amazing love This we know You’re still the reason And of everything Jesus you’re the Best Part
A Son was given A child was born
So meek and lowly Our sovereign Lord A life laid down Surrendered crown Oh to behold Him Is what we live for now Just to behold Him Is what we live for now
What a gift we have in Jesus Unending joy, amazing love This we know You’re still the reason And of everything
Jesus you’re the Best Part
Jesus you’re the Best Part Jesus you’re the Best Part Jesus you’re the Best Part
He is worth more than silver More precious than gold Even more priceless Than treasures untold So we lay down our lives Let His story unfold Creation will praise Him The nations behold
So here’s our worship
So here’s our love
Our surrender have all of us
Let us adore him
O Christ the Lord
The son of God
The son of man
The Living Word
What a gift we have in Jesus Unending joy, amazing Love This we know You’re still the reason And of everything
Jesus you’re the best part
Heritage Worship Music, Maverick City Publishing.
Naomi Raine Music (Admin by Bethel Music)