Christmas Stories: Day 22
Every day ’til Christmas, we’re sharing a story from your family at FN. Would you rather get them straight to your inbox? Click here and choose “Christmas Stories: (Daily Emails Dec 2015).”
On Sunday, Dec 7, Harold talked about hopelessness, and Sarabeth read a story – really, just part of the story. Then on Dec. 21, we heard the rest. Here’s the whole story in it’s entirety…
My brokenness, His hope.
Hatred. Anger. Fear. Loathing. Sorrow. Sullen. Darkness. Bitter. Fury. Hostility. Pain. Misery. Anguish. Hopelessness. Rage. Abandoned. Desolate. Empty. Cursed.
You can’t find these 20 words glittered, adorned and ready to display on your Christmas mantle. They aren’t beautifully scripted on plaques or woven into door wreaths to welcome family and friends. They aren’t melodic or hopeful or happy- they aren’t woven into beautiful hymns.
These aren’t the words you want to read in a story about Advent and Christmas. At best, they’re whispered gossip between close friends – about someone else. They are hidden with fake smiles and canned laughter. They are artfully baked into pies and buried in the busyness of the season. Sometimes, they lie just below the surface of a perfectly wrapped gift.
Despair is easy to define: it’s the loss of hope. Brokenness is often a result of despair and all those other ugly words and emotions.
Finding joy amid the normal flow of life is an anomaly. Finding holiday joy amid feelings of loss, despair and anguish are hollow. It’s as if the bells ring out to remind you of your defeat. I’ve struggled with loss during Christmas for 40 years.
I’ve written about it often- because that day shook my foundational beliefs in mercy, grace and God. It was the day I stopped believing. Stopped believing in Santa. Stopped believing in God. Stopped believing in Christmas. Stopped believing in Faith, Hope, Love.
My mom died from a 6-month battle with cancer; on December 12, 1974 to be exact- two weeks before Christmas. She had turned 30 only 10 days earlier.
I was 6.
For me, Christmas is my cued recall of this event. Advent became a countdown, not of hope, but of cruel loss and fury.
I thought when I had my firstborn in November 2001, I would finally be delivered from the anguish. I was even more desolate that Christmas. It was rote to blame God for continuing my rage, my misery, my despair. These are feelings that a new baby should have delivered me from at Christmas.
The agony continued, magnified by the birth of my second child in December 2004. WHERE IS MY JOY? MY PEACE? WHERE IS MY HOPE? I was still looking for my perfect Christmas.
God has never forsaken me, much as I always used to think. He has patiently waited for me.
I found answers to my questions in January 2005 at Fellowship North. After another hard Christmas season, the last thing I wanted was to be found, or worse- sitting in church. I went to listen to a baptism service- my husband Paul was among the participants. I was bitter and angry and sat in the back row- wanting to escape the warmth of the sanctuary. I had nothing in common with these ‘church people’- you know the ones, those with perfect lives centered around message of redemption, love and grace.
But God found me instead. He brought story after story of brokenness and loss and redemption. Of imperfection, brokenness and extraordinary love. I was quite taken aback, weeping in the back row that day- only to look up and see a church—no, a family of Christ-followers, crying as well. Seeing them react to beautiful stories of love, maybe even recalling their own difficult journeys.
The holidays are better now. I’ll always have a different viewpoint than most- and I’ll still see the darkness.
But now there’s more LIGHT. It’s my 9th year knowing and loving a family of imperfect people with the strength of Christ’s love. I’m now working with a new set of words in my life at Christmas.
Faith. Hope. Love. Cheer. Joy. Peace. Kindness. Thanks. Believe. Noel. Merry. Family. Grace. Gift. Home. Advent. Friends. Blessed. Goodwill.
They are glittered, burnished, gilted and ready to decorate the halls of my home and the walls of my heart.
As your Christmas unfolds this year with traditions, songs, cheer and joy; remember to pray. Pray for the broken, the anguished, the undelivered. Pray for the feelings of despair and agony and misery to lift- feelings that are so often unspoken yet violently rage in so many hearts. Pray for those that have lost loved ones, their hope, their faith.
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NLT)
Boymom, laundry warrior, beach lover and library geek. After years of wandering the wilderness, the Kimrey’s found their way to Fellowship North in 2005; they loved the coffee bar and stuck around for the Christmas punch.