Chains He Shall Break

Christmas Eve.  The most magical night of the year.  

Hearts throughout the world are filled with excitement, hope, and the promise of something wonderful in the morning to come.

Christmas Eve.  The most painful night of the year.

Hearts throughout the world are filled with dread, grief, and the broken pieces of what should’ve been and what shouldn't be in the morning to come.

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I’ve been both.  I am both.

Great loss sits next to great gain.

Family breaks, while another is created.

Love finds itself struggling to keep the hate quiet.

Grace dances right alongside inconceivable hurt.

Tears shed for memories past, and memories that will never be.

The same tears fall for moments of such breathtaking joy, the memories past no longer matter.

At least for a moment.

I was 16 when I heard my aunt sing on stage for the first time.  She invited my father, and his wife and kids, to her church’s version of The Christmas Carol.  She played the angel of Christmas present - and had a solo - “O’Holy Night”.  

I wish I had a picture of her wearing those huge white wings.  I wish I had paid better attention to the lyrics.

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Truly He taught us to love one another,

His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.

And in His name all oppression shall cease.

The verse explains it all.

Loving one another is how loss turns into gain.  It’s how new families are created.  It’s why hate doesn’t get the last word. 

His law of love is the grace to comfort the hurt, while His gospel of peace calms the torrent of tears.

Those memories are chains He has broken.  

When the oppression ceased, joy broke through.

It’s Christmas Eve.  The most Holy night of the year.

May there be one person in your life to fill your heart with His love - who may not be able to glue those pieces together, but will hold them in their hands and say:

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“They’re beautiful. Every jagged piece is building a life of meaning beyond even what your heart can hope for.  There’s still hope in the dark night of Christmas Eve.”   

 

Glitter in the Dark

Holidays are hard.

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I think in some way, at some point, they’re hard on everyone.

Mother’s Day.  Father’s Day.  Valentine’s Day.

The difficulties with those are self-explanatory.  They remind those who don’t have mothers, fathers, children, or lovers - they are without.  They’ve lost.

The difficulties with Christmas are harder to put on paper. They aren’t so easily defined.  

In my own house, the smell of ripe Douglas Fir fills the air.  Three different nativity scenes cover my end table and shelves.  I’ve already watched Charlie Brown buy that scruffy tree and the Grinch steal Christmas.  (The classic, animated version of course.  Not that weird Jim Carrey thing.)

My "white man's nativity" set.  Pretty sure Mary and Joseph didn't have golden brown hair.

My "white man's nativity" set.  Pretty sure Mary and Joseph didn't have golden brown hair.

Yet, I can’t help feeling I’m filling my house in red ribbon and silver glitter to fill an emptiness in my heart.  

And it halfway works.  That’s the thing with Christmas.  

A father can laugh at his own child tearing through paper, bags, and rock solid zip ties, while inside mourn the loss of his own father.

A sister will stay up all night, excited to find the perfect gift at the perfect price, only to feel sad as she remembers the gift is to be shipped across the country.

A young man decides not to fly home, since it’s better to drink eggnog with friends, than witness what his family has become.

A little girl get’s the one gift she really wants, but recognizes the shame in her parent's eyes because they didn't buy it for her.  A charity did.

A childless couple spoils each other in love and gifts, but secretly wishes they could spoil someone else.

Why do the holidays make it so hard to focus on what we have and what we are, instead of what is missing and who we are not?

Hand made nativity scene I bought in Poland hanging with some glitter.

Hand made nativity scene I bought in Poland hanging with some glitter.

Why is it so hard to let go of the home I’ll never have?  The one with parents for both me and my sisters.  The one where cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents pile under a tree and later around a dining room table.  The one with a light dusting of snow covering the ground.

Makes me want to punch Hallmark in the face.

Instead, I’ll spend $12 there on a box of cards.  I’ll write little notes, sign my name and seal the envelopes tight.  When I write out each name and address, I’ll remember they matter to me.  I’ll remember not all families look alike.  Not all Christmases look like a holiday ad in Sunday's paper.  

I’ll remember I love glitter.  Especially when it twinkles in the darkness.

What about you?  What shines in the dark spots of your holidays?