Wednesday, December 23, 2015

six years ago

Wednesday December 23, 2009.  Six years ago today.  It was so unexpected.  Nobody could have seen it coming.  I mean you had just been cleared that past Friday.  I stood there and watched as you rang the victory bell in the cancer center.

I remember insisting on a picture which was uncharacteristic of me at the time and was always your least favorite thing ever. I had no way of knowing it would be our last…otherwise I might have rethought what I was wearing that day…or you know, fixed my hair.  Oh the awkward/un-coolness that I carried through to college.

I think what stands out most though is your face, it shows the storm you had just weathered.  You took a mighty beating in conquering that cancer.  Your neck a bit toasted from all that localized radiation but man other than that, it never looked better.  I mean who knew you were gonna get a neck lift in the process?

But saying goodbye to you that following Wednesday, I just never saw that coming.  None of us did.  I can remember running my fingers through your beautiful salt & pepper hair.  It was always so thick and fell just perfectly thanks to your careful training over the years.  Holding your strong, big hand.  I hadn’t realized how big they were because even though they had callouses from all of the years furniture refinishing and piddling around the house there was a softness to them.  They were makers hands. 

I remember always thinking it strange that people would want to still be near to someone who had passed away.  And yes, even now it does seem strange but I wouldn’t trade those last few minutes just looking at you one last time.  We’re never ready to let go of someone we love when the time comes…

Some years are heavier than others and this seems to be one of them.  It feels hard to get into Christmas this year.  Perhaps it’s just the heavy season of learning I’m going through or the 77 degree weather outside. Whatever it is I couldn’t help but think this morning as I woke up that I just don’t feel “Christmassy”.  Fully aware of the feelings of loss that were coming fast and furious, and hating that they were there just two days before Christmas. But then…feelings of receiving started to break through.

Yes, 6 years ago I experienced loss but 2000 years ago we all were given a gift.  For the first time this month it felt OK to not feel “Christmassy” because I might have missed it.  Missed the sweetness of Christ’ coming to Earth.  If it means not being all caught up in the cold weather, lights and presents I’ll take it.  I’d rather sit in the wonder of the humility of Christ’ coming as one of us but still being God.  I am overwhelmed with gratefulness.

I am learning that the best way to fight the weight of loss is to respond with gratitude.  There have been so many days in the past few weeks where I have felt the pull to sit in heaviness.  It creeps up in such a way that I don’t even realize what’s happening.  But wow, that’s a crummy way to live life. 

Maybe your struggling too this Christmas.  It doesn’t have to be for the same reasons but you know there is a heaviness that you just can’t seem to shake.

Choose gratitude…even when you don’t feel like it.  This much I know, the more you fight for joy the more it will come.  I choose to praise God for who he is and his deep love for me even when I don’t feel it.  I know it’s true because he has promised it in his Word and he has proven himself faithful.  I don’t always feel it after telling myself the first time.  Sometimes it takes 5 times and more.  Keep reminding yourself of his goodness this season.  I have fallen in love with the verse below and find it to be one of the most reassuring things to me. 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Hebrews 13:8

There is power in the coming of Jesus.  Power in his words. Power in his death and resurrection. 

There is power in the name of Jesus.  

You and I are loved more than we can comprehend.

Merry Christmas