I feel asleep on my sofa last night, but before doing so, I decided to leave my Christmas tree lights on overnight. This morning upon waking, it took me some time to remember what day it was. It was daylight outside and I'd slept so soundly that I wasn't sure if it was a workday, a Sunday, or what. Then I remembered.
Laying there trying to come out of my sleep stupor, I began zeroing in on the ornaments on my Christmas tree. I have hundreds and not all of them can fit on the tree. Yet, I can tell you where most of them came from; whether they were teacher gifts from when I taught preschool, gifts from a friend or from an ornament exchange, or whether they were ones I had purchased. The ones from friends got me to thinking.
Looking back over the past few days and over this past year - the time I've spent with friends and family has been a gift. As a single girl, it can be hard sometimes to be alone during certain seasons of life, especially at the holidays, whether you're with family and friends or not. So I can understand those who suffer from loneliness at the holidays. However, I'm not there.
My heart grieves with those who will not be with their loved ones this Christmas because they've passed on at some point this year. My mother passed away several years ago just a week before Thanksgiving. So I get it. I understand that kind of pain and grief. Although I'm not currently living it, I can't forget about those who are experiencing it now.
We live in a world that's broken - broken people living out their brokenness in the midst of broken systems. Yet I look around and I see beauty; beauty in the way we often treat one another, the care we give to someone in need, the love expressed through a long hug or the invitation from friends to spend a holiday with them. I see vast wealth on display in my life and in the lives of my friends: the joy of added family members, special times together making memories, amazing blessings being poured out - things the world might not measure as wealth but they most certainly are.
Yet sitting here looking at my tree, thinking all these big thoughts on Christmas day, I'm reminded of my life from years ago - when I could not think these weighty thoughts or be joyous in my singleness at Christmas or at any holiday. I could not see and fully embrace the richness of the blessings in my life for the longing in my heart to have what I wanted, for things to go as I had planned, and for my life to mirror what I thought in my head it should be. I was too busy lamenting my life and it's circumstances to spend it rejoicing my life and it's beauty. I'm not there anymore.
I don't live in the shouldda, couldda, wouldda's of life. I easily move past regret (most of the time). While things may sadden me when they don't go as I'd hoped, I choose not to live there. Don't ask me how. It's to no credit of my own. I think perhaps the Lord just graciously gave me revelation, after revelation of the beauty of my life as it was and as it would be once I let go of regrets, and more importantly, as I began to relinquish my need to control how my life played out.
The result? I am very content in my singleness while still believing for my mate. I don't spend my time wishing I was... I really don't care about the latest and greatest this or that. I'm a techno retard,and I'm just fine with that. I often say what I think (not always the best idea), but it either makes people laugh, cringe, uncomfortable or wish they could just say what's really on their mind. I choose friends I want to be around - people who are for me, who know how I can be, not friends to advance, give me status or think like me, but people who make me laugh, make me think, build me up, love me for me and let me be me, speak the truth and who have no agenda. I'm not easily swayed by others opinion of me. Only One really matters to me.
More importantly, I now have a love for life I didn't have before those lamenting years. I love people more completely, even those who haven't yet learned how to fully love back. I love where I'm at in life but not content to stay there. I love that I am becoming more me - more confident, more hilariously witty (at least I think so), more unshakeable in the things that really matter, more loving and full of grace (my constant prayer), more aware of my broken places, and more like someone I'd want to have as a friend.
I see people all around me who have it all, yet are empty inside. Nice cars, big homes, all they could ever want, opportunities I'll probably never have but inside they're a wreck. They're around all of us living their lives in the shadow of their pain just waiting, whether they know it or not, for the God of CHRISTmas, to come and do for them what he did for me over and over and over again - give them a revelation of the beauty in their lives today. That's where my heart is lingering this Christmas morning.
Perhaps you are that one or you definitely have someone in your life today who fits that bill. Offer up a prayer for them this Christmas, for the Gift of Christmas, our Emmanuel, to come and invade their world today. My favorite quote about Jesus comes from a movie, oddly enough about slavery, yet it encompasses the true meaning and spirit behind this precious Gift.
"Then he was born and everything changed."
That can be true for you today, no matter who you are or what your life looks like. Jesus wants to give you the life you never dreamed, full of the joy only he can give. Whether you know him or not it doesn't matter. For you today, everything can change.