It's Christmas, and my heart cannot stop smiling. If you have ever known sad Christmases, the glad ones are extra glory.
Have you known sad Christmases? Are you in one now? I've had more than a few, but one in particular is vivid still. I was one year into what would be a four year mystery illness. I was in bed on Christmas afternoon and I could not stop the grief. With my four tiny babies happily playing with all the Christmas goodness right outside my bedroom door which felt like a world away. My body was hurting. My mind was hurting. My heart was hurting. I was aghast at myself for what I viewed as a strictly spiritual problem; even though I was repeatedly repenting of everything I could think of my anxiety and grief would not lift. It had been a year of that. John cracked the door, crawled into bed beside me. Curled up by my sobbing form and put his arms around me.
If you know John, you know he's an excellent problem solver. Bring any trouble to him and his brilliant mind will immediately calculate the best, most efficient solution. But not this. This was something much, much bigger than both of us. He couldn't fix it. I couldn't fix it. We were as helpless as newborn babies.
In spite of this, John bravely waded in. He held me and said "Babe, whatever is going on, maybe you have to be the one to fight this battle so that by grace the generational chains of sin are broken and our children can be spared the particular wounds you bear. When you’re the new link in the chain of generations of darkness and brokenness that's going to be painful. Soliders never come back from battle without scars, even invisible ones. I am here. God will help us." I wept. We prayed. In the afternoon shadows there was no immediate shift, no sudden revelation. It would be three years before the battle was over. It nearly cost me my life and stretched John and me beyond what we had imagined we could ever endure. In the end it was God who won the battle for us, as it always is.
Christmas stirs up the memories. Broken Christmases of my childhood, lonely Christmases of my college years, sweet Christmases once I became a Lewis. And then the years of (rest below)