As we approach the Holiday season, I looked for something special to write about. Something to encourage you if you are in the midst of a trial, words to comfort you if you have experienced loss, or a special sentiment to bring you peace if you are feeling anxiety. I couldn't find it on the internet, but I found it in my own heart.
The holidays have always been such a favorite time of year for me. I love the pretty tree (although I don't take much joy in the actual decorating of it), I love the relaxed time at home, and I actually love being out in the crowds shopping. When they were young, I especially loved dressing my little girls up in holiday dresses and big hair bows. I loved that proverbial "Christmas Picture" we attempted to take every year. We would often take an entire roll of film (I am aging myself here) and rush to get it developed--hoping for that "perfect" picture. With three little girls (and various pets, pacifiers, tantrums, etc.) there were MANY "out-takes." I, however, would pick out the picture where every hair was in place and they all had perfect smiles, and I would proudly send it out to friends and family. I wanted people to think that we were wonderful parents with wonderful children. As I look back over the "out-takes" they are the ones I most enjoy today. They are hilarious-- and much more a "picture" of what our real life was like.
Today those little girls are all grown up. The truth is that we were okay parents. We did a lot of things right, but we made just as many mistakes and missteps in our parenting journey. Our girls have grown up to be very unique and yes, wonderful. But that is truly only because of our Heavenly Father's Amazing Grace. The thing is we were not perfect parents, and they are not perfect "products" of our parenting. I wish we had been more real back then. I wish we would have been more open about our struggles, questions, doubts. I wish we would have not worried so much about what people thought of our parenting, but more concerned about reaching out to those who were struggling like we were. It is not only freeing to be transparent and real, it is so much more productive in the Kingdom of God. If we would admit when we fail, hurt or question, those who are also failing, hurting and questioning may be a little more open to receiving the love and compassion of our God.
So today I will be real. You see, we had hoped to have a beautiful little girl home to spend the holidays with us this year. She will not be coming, barring a huge miracle. The door of adoption and guardianship in the European country where she lives are closed, and now seem locked. We are so sad. We have a catch in our throats as we close the door to her room that has been so carefully prepared. We shed a tear or experience a heaviness in our chest as we look at the clothes that she should be wearing, the toys she should be playing with, and the bed she should be sleeping in. We had so many hopes, dreams and plans for this little beauty, and they all seem to be gone now.
I must be honest in saying that I don't know what our next step will be. I don't even know what it should be. Things are not pretty and "wrapped up in a bow" even when we say things like "God is in control, God will take care of things, God loves her more than we do." We know He is in control, He will take care of things and He certainly loves her in a way we cannot. But the reality is--we hurt.
So, if you are discouraged, hurting, lonely, anxious or sad this season, I am so sorry, but I understand. I am with you and I won't try to dress it up or make it pretty.
I will however, remind you of the TRUTH that I am reminding myself of:
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18
Okay, I gotta say I love how the Message version puts it:
"If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there; if you are kicked in the gut, He'll help you catch your breath."
Is your heart broken? Is your spirit crushed? Do you feel kicked in the gut?
Then cry out to Him. Be real with Him.
He knows your heart is broken and He is close. He will save your crushed spirit... and He will help you catch your breath.
I pray you know His presence this Holiday season.