Not So Merry Christmas

For most of my life, Christmas has been a time of wonder and magic, and not because dreams come true. Christmas has been a wonderful time because for as long as I can remember, family has come together for laughter and merry making, all centered around the birth of Christ. Oh sure, there may have been some conflict here and there, but my childhood memories are free of such distraction. Even my adult memories have been mostly joy-filled.

A few times, however, life has been anything but merry over Christmas. One of the hardest was twelve years ago when I was grieving the death of a precious baby girl delivered into the arms of Jesus far too early. It is tradition to decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. But I didn’t want to; I was still so devastated from my loss that it was virtually impossible to even think about being merry, let alone invest the energy to make it happen.

Our then 7 year old daughter, however, would have nothing of my humbug attitude. Single-handedly, she got the decorations out, and engaged everyone in helping put them up, even her Scroogely mama. I will never forget how God worked through that time, or through that precious girl.

Fast-forward twelve years, and once again I am facing a holiday that isn’t quite so merry. The reasons are different, but the heartache is all too familiar; disappointment and loss, well seasoned with rejection. The enemy’s lies are mingled in, making today not quite so merry as it has been in years past. And I find myself at a cross-roads. Today is supposed to be so fun, the highlight of the year. Families gather to exchange gifts and laugh. Most of my Christmas memories are sweet and joy-filled. Do I let the pain I am experiencing today overshadow the joy of what we are celebrating? Do I allow the one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy steal my joy, kill my excitement, and destroy my holiday? Or will I allow the Spirit of God to comfort me, sooth my wounded heart, and fill my soul with joy that is not dependent on circumstances? And what will life look like if I do?

Honestly, I am wrestling right now…that’s why I’m writing. It is far easier to write about walking through heartache than it is to actually do it. And to walk through with grace, keeping my eyes on Jesus instead of my circumstances…that feels almost impossible at this moment, truly.

A dear friend told me recently that I need to focus on the big picture, not the brush strokes. And today, in reality, is just a brush stroke…just one single brush stroke on a room-sized canvas. It feels like a huge black splotch, but since I know the Master who holds the brush and chooses the paint, I know what I’m experiencing isn’t an accident. And, if I can step back from the momentary pain (as overwhelming as it is) to gaze in the face of my Savior, I can live as though it is true that God holds the brush and chooses the paint.

But that choice is more difficult to make than it might at first appear. It requires experiencing the pain. It requires acknowledging the heartache. And it means letting go of both…which is also hard.

God holds the brush, and He controls the paint. He is a master craftsman and I can trust Him. Even when it doesn’t make sense. And I pray that everyone else who is struggling on this festive day, for whatever reason, will be able to step back from the moment and gaze at the big picture, seeing both the brush strokes and the Master Craftsman who holds the brush. And in seeing, be able to rest, embracing the comfort and peace He offers, as difficult as that may be.

4 thoughts on “Not So Merry Christmas

  1. He does hold the brush and control the paint. The strokes are His. He feels them as He brushes. He paints intentionally. And steps back and asks us what we think and what we’ll do with what we see. Love this blog. It reminds me that I’m not in control–but being a willing canvas is work!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s