As it goes with the year end gargantuan tasks, I have begun tidying up my digital files. You know, the to do’s that never got done! I am typically more organized, but this year…alas, I have procrastinated!
In this case, my procrastination proved to be a blessing. I scrolled through file after file, seeing all that was written, created and published in 2020. And I was filled with overwhelm.
God has been faithful to show up week after week promoting my heart with words of Hope for my sphere of influence. Written word and spoken word, God’s word has gone forth with my brokenness as the springboard for the hope I profess in Christ.
As I got toward the bottom of the list of files I noticed the dates of when I seemed to have stopped organizing. It was early last November when Zach went into the hospital. As I scrolled and filed, I saw a file entitled, “What if I don’t want to do Christmas?”
I clicked. It opened. And I began to read.
“What if I don’t want to do Christmas?” was a blog I wrote on Christmas Eve 2019. It had only been four weeks after Zach passed. I remember how I felt numb and at the same time flurries of emotions. Feeling yet not feeling at all.
I suppose that’s called shock.
Yes, shock. Shock of the new reality we live would live with. The shock of how quickly we can lose someone we love dearly. The shock of the suffering. And the shock of letting go of all that we hoped would come in the future.
But hey, it’s been almost a whole year since I wrote that blog. A whole year. Our second Christmas without my brother. So the shock has worn off, right?.
You’d think. You’d think that the hours, days and months would mellow out the shock. You’d think it wouldn’t hurt as bad a year later. You’d think that Christmas would come to us this year with a fresh cantor of hope.
But if I’m honest, the year didn’t change much. The shock has worn a little. The harsh reality still glares at us as if the loss happened yesterday. I was surprised that the words written before me were descriptive of the emotions I was walking though now in 2020.
What if I still don’t want to do Christmas? I still don’t feel like celebrating. What if I’m not okay with the new normal?
In fact, I’ve forced myself into the Christmas spirit with silly glasses and a headdress. I decorated the house for the kids’ enjoyment. I force out smiles and sing along to carols as I wrap the gifts and place them under the white lit palm tree.
What if I still don’t want to do Christmas?
I don’t want to do Christmas because it reminds me of what isn’t the same.
I wrapped the gifts to put under the tree and I broke down into tears. I remember the gift he would give my mom each year, her annual spa day! It’s not about the gift. It’s what the gift symbolizes. It’s a representation of love and relationship.
Tears came as I packed the last gift Zach bought me, a green and grey ski sweater, into my suitcase for a trip to see family.
Tears came as I remember all the Christmas Vacation lines we would zing at each other.
I giggled through the tears as I remembered the silly sarcastic Christmas cards we would exchange.
Yes, these are memories that come out of the blue. They bring tears and laughter.
Christmas just doesn’t feel the same. It never will.
The fact that it doesn’t feel the same doesn’t mean it isn’t good, or fun, or enjoyable or cherished. It just means it’s not the same. It means I have to give myself permission and space to feel the change, not ignore it.
Sameness has provided security for the heart. But the reality of life is that things change. Things change. Loss happens. Life goes…on.
LIFE goes on. Life GOES on. Life goes ON.
The differences are hard to accept. But accepting the reality that life goes on doesn’t make the hurt less or take away the memories. It opens a door to the blessedness of understanding the impact of serving a God who stays the same.
Though life changes. Circumstances change. People come and go. Relationships are made and broken. We love and we lose. But God stays the same. He is always with us. God is always on our side.
GOD never changes. God NEVER changes. God never CHANGES.
“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” Malachi 3:6
God doesn’t change. When my heart aches because I long for sameness of the days gone by. I long for this Christmas to look and feel like Christmas used to when we were a complete family, my brother, all four of my grandparents, and my uncle.
My picture of Christmas has to look different now. Because the reality is, it is different, and will never go back the way it used to be. But when I feel overwhelmed by the change and having to embrace the newness I can lean on Jesus.
I can lean on Jesus because he was with me before and he will be with me each and every Christmas until my time comes to pass from this life into the greater glory of heaven.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ represents stability and a firm foundation. The fact that he is the same gives me confidence to press on. Press on into the newness of this season of life.
I don’t know what 2021 will bring and how the journey of healing and grieving will go. But what I do know is that no matter what God will be with me. I can count on his love, gentleness and faithfulness.
I do know that Jesus is the same. I can rest and have a heart of peace trusting in the sameness of my Savior. Naomi Raine and Maverick City Music sings a song called, Story I Tell. The lyrics that speak to my heart now are,
“ The hour is dark And it’s hard to see
What You are doin’ here in the ruins
And where this will lead
Oh, but I know
That down through the years
I’ll look on this moment and see Your hand on it
And know You were here
And I’ll testify of the battles You’ve won
How You were my portion when there wasn’t enough
And I’ll testify of the seas that we’ve crossed
The waters You parted, the waves that I’ve walked
I know that years from now, I will look back and be able to tell the story of how God’s hand was on me the whole time. He walked me step by step and day by day. On the dark days of, “I don’t want to do Christmas” I will see that my God did not fail me, and he was always with me.
Years from now I will look back to see that God was my portion, my shelter, my stronghold.
Psalm 16:5 says, “Lord you are my portion, and my cup; you make my lot secure.”
That’s the story that I’ll tell. And for now I trust and believe that God is here in the middle of the hardest days. And for now I tell the story of walking out loud the process of a heart being healed and giving the GLORY to GOD.
You can learn more about my story, the testimony God has given me to share in my book Ascent to Hope: The Rugged Climb From Fear to Faith