Merry Broken Christmas!
Yes, you read that right. Why do we pretend that this season magically wipes away all the hurts and struggles? Cancer still exists, loved ones who passed on, do not come back to life, wandering prodigals may not come home for the holidays, loneliness abounds even more because we think that everyone else is having the perfect Christmas.
I am experiencing my own broken Christmas as the tears rolled down my cheeks this week over the changes that have taken place in my life this year....my daughter leaving for college which gives us an empty nest....my Mom's many TIA's this year, the first being on my birthday. Trying to keep up with my Mom's doctor's appointments and my own busy schedule of work and teaching piano lessons, as well as being there for our daughter in her adjustments to college life. They don't call this 'The Sandwich Generation" for nothing!
Along with the changes this year, some emotional pain has been around for years and has left some pretty deep scars. I never dreamed I would be divorced. Not me, the Bible college graduate, the pastor's wife who always dreamed of ministry. In two weeks it will be 16 years since I packed up my two kids and left my abusive marriage to start my new life as a single parent. Over the years I faced many losses. Yes, I felt broken. Forced to leave the ministry I loved, the women in the Bible study I led, the kids in the Christian school I was helping, friends I dearly loved. For our safety, I just walked away from it all without saying goodbye. So many misunderstandings and rumors that took place because I could not tell of my planned departure.
Some of the losses included having to enter the workforce and giving up being a stay at home mom. Did I go to Bible college to end up here? Just like the physical scars I have, these emotional scars still exist. Even though my kids are grown and custody is no longer an issue, the scars of dealing with an abusive husband and father do not just disappear. It takes years and maybe a lifetime to heal. Yes, I feel broken. My children live in limbo land not having a dad who is a great role model. Even though I remarried and found a wonderful man, he is not their father. No matter how loving he is, he can't completely take away the memories that haunt.
As I approached this Christmas season, I found myself struggling to keep my scars at bay. Focusing on my losses only made me spiral deeper into the dark abyss. Isn't it all a matter of perspective? The glass half full or empty?
Replacing my sadness for His peace, I uncurled from my fetal position and took the first step to finding joy in this brokenness. What could possibly bring me joy in the midst of my broken Christmas?
We sang "Count Your Many Blessings" at our Thanksgiving table this year. O how, I need that reminder. With a grateful heart, I started realizing how my brokenness has been a blessing.
So I started thinking, "There is always someone worse off than me". We have been trying to adopt an older child. The 'waiting children' do not have a family. I was thinking of calling a friend who works at the Children's Aid Society to see how our family can make a child's Christmas a little more special. She called me this morning. Isn't that a God thing? I have not talked to her in months!
The empty nesting time has brought a sweetness to our marriage as we share quiet moments at home, candles glowing, favorite Christmas tunes playing and just being.....
Our daughter being away give us special times with her when she calls or comes home. We love hearing of all her new experiences on a secular campus where she is letting her light shine bright.
With my baking buddy being at college, a co-worker and I baked cookies together last night. I would never had the time to do this other years because of all the high school music concerts we attended.
The perfect Christmas? My perfect Christmas is broken as I am
reminded that Jesus came to a broken world to fix my broken heart. As I read Jesus' birth story one more time, I am asking Him to show me new wonder. The Author of Time, cared enough to create my story from the beginning. But He gives me freedom to choose to love Him. I love reading about His love story for me and how He is taking my broken mess and using it for Him..
Now I minister to broken people that I would never have been able to reach before. I listen to the custody woes of single mothers, share God's love with friends I have made from my secular job, even a woman who owns a bar! I would never have been able to do this as a Pastor's wife.
So as I continue reflecting on the brokenness of my life, picking up the pieces and asking God to put them back together, I see Him making something more amazing out of my life than I could have ever dreamed. So Merry Broken Christmas Everyone!