Please excuse a second post today, but I think you will agree that it is a timely message worth re-sharing as Christmas draws near this can be such a difficult time of year for so many people. I hope you will find comfort and encouragement in this post.
Christmas is a time when memories are made. Christmas is also a season of grace.
Two years ago, I wrote about a special Christmastime memory that occurred during the most painful season of my life journey. I think the story is worth repeating, and hope in some small way, it may speak to your heart.
Each December, I’m reminded of THAT Christmas. I felt certain it was destined to be unhappy. Instead, it has become one of my most cherished memories.
A month before Christmas, my unwanted divorce was finalized. All during December, a cloud of doom and gloom hovered over my heart.
Realizing it was going to be a difficult time for their daughter, my mom and dad arrived to spend Christmas Eve with my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter and me in our tiny little rental house, located across the road from railroad tracks. At that time, it was all I could afford on my secretary salary and child support income.
Angie had no inkling all was not well in her little world. She adored her grandparents, and they adored her. She was delighted by the little Christmas tree, festooned with bright bulbs and lights. She was ecstatic about all the “pwesents” under the tree. Her bubbly, bouncy personality brought so much joy and laughter. But, Angie went to bed before 8:00 p.m., which left several hours for me to deal with heartbreaking memories and the foreboding of a fearful future.
Christmas Eve didn’t keep Mom from going to bed at her usual early hour. Afterward, Dad and I settled down to watch TV. As nighttime deepened, we could see through the window snow beginning to fall.
Midnight was nearing when Dad asked if I’d like to go for a walk. Donning coats, hats, gloves, boots and scarves, we left the house, prepared to walk into Christmas morn.
The night was perfect—much like a scene concluding one of those Hallmark Christmas movies. Not even a slight breeze disturbed the silent night. Huge wet snowflakes fell softly from an inky sky. Beams of light from the moon and streetlamps sparkled on the snowy white blanket.
There was something so special about that brand-new blanket of snow. For several minutes, it insulated me from the interior noise that had been clanging in my soul for many months. The snow’s unmarred freshness spoke to my spirit about a clean slate, bringing the promise of new beginning.
Jerry Sittser, in his excellent book about loss and grief, A Grace Disguised, reminded me of my period of personal loss when speaking of his own horrific season of grief. He wrote, “However difficult…I had to learn how to build a new life for myself and my family. My new circumstances were a given; my response was not. The tragedy became the catalyst for creative action.”
Dad and I didn’t speak during the walk. Our only communication was the unspoken camaraderie between a father and his child. Looking back on that event, I think I sensed I could trust my dad would be there for me. I believe on some spiritual level, I knew my earthly father’s trustworthiness reflected the faithfulness of my Heavenly Father.
Many passages in my copy of A Grace Disguised are highlighted. One says, “I want to honor the dead who have gone before me and bless the living who will come after me. Whether and to what extent I succeed will depend on the choices I made and the grace I receive.”
Today, I honor my earthly father who has gone before me. The grace I received during the walk Dad and I took that long-past Christmas Eve when my emotions were bruised badly, and my spirit nearly broken, gave me courage to walk into a season of healing.
People often tell me they appreciate the grace I extend. Those compliments are humbling but also a reminder when grace has been given to me, it enables me to bless those living and who will come after me.
My Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for the gift of lovely remembrance. Thank you for the grace you give, enabling and empowering us to walk beyond our painful losses. Amen
May your memories this Christmas season be sweetened with God’s grace…