Good evening, readers.
This will most certainly be my last blog of this year, a year in which a lot of life has happened but little blogging took place.
For the last few weeks a few lines from the 1989 film Steel Magnolias have been running through my mind. Standing over her daughter's casket, M'Lynn Eatenton, portrayed by Sally Fields, loudly exclaims to her friends:
I'm fine. I'm fine. I'm fine. I'm fine! I can jog all the way to Texas and back, but my daughter can't! She never could! Oh God! I am so mad I don't know what to do! I want to know why!
A handful of women's names have been on my heart lately, some close friends, some acquaintances, some whose name I'd have never known were it not for social media. Vicki Covington. Jackie Stephenson. Amy LeBlanc. Madeline Weatherford. Summer McCurry. Erin Crawford.
Part of the reason Jesus came to earth to live as a human was to experience what we experience bodily: hunger, thirst, exhaustion, temptation, etc. It occurs to me there is perhaps one thing Jesus need not explain to God the Father when he intercedes for us, and that is the agony of a suffering child, the agony of losing a child. God knows. He remembers.
Memory is sometimes a double-edged sword. Perhaps at no other time of the year are so many remembering so much. It’s seemingly impossible to pull dusty boxes out of the attic and unpack Christmas decorations without revisiting Christmases past. The very essence of Christmas is an arrow pointing to the past.
While Christmas is traditionally the time of year the world, even much of the secular world, remembers the birth of Jesus, the image of a babe in a manger is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding the gravity of that event. Consider for a moment Christ’s memories, specifically His memories of equality with God, of His time as a human, and of the hours He hung on the cross.
Christ gave up equality with God to become flesh. He exchanged full equality with the God of the universe to put on mortal flesh, the same flesh in which we live and breathe, in which we sometimes rejoice, sometimes ache, sometimes weep. He chose to suffer as men suffer so that, after a cruel death on a cross, He might return to the Father and stand before Him and say, with absolute sincerity, “I understand. Be patient with your creation. They are prone to selfishness. They grow weary. They are disheartened.”
In his novel All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy states, "Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real." Christ’s past is real; He came to earth, He lived, He suffered, He died, and He defeated death.
You may have scars that seem particularly gruesome this time of year, be they physical or emotional. It is normal to run your fingers over them, to remember how they formed, and to reflect on the ways they have changed your life. Heartache takes no holiday. This year has been a year of heartache for many. We can rejoice knowing that our stories, even and especially the valleys, are a part of the Christmas story. The Lord God sent His Son to earth to be born of a virgin so that one day we might live forever with Him; perhaps more comforting to a mama's heart is this: the Lord God sent His one Son to earth to be born of a virgin so that one day our children will be raised whole, cured, and perfect in order to live with Him forever. One day they will run to Texas and back.
I will close with my favorite lines from Longfellow's poem "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." You can read the entire poem here.
Longfellow was emerging from years of incredible personal turmoil when he wrote this poem; America was fighting her Civil War. You can read more about the circumstances in which Longfellow found himself on Christmas Day of 1864 when he composed this poem here.
He concludes it this way:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."
I have had these thoughts in my mind for a week or more. I pray it was a good decision to share them, and I pray they reach and are of some comfort to those who need them.
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep. It was true in 1864; it is true today. God is not dead, and death is, praise be to God, not permanent, and we serve a God who loves us so much He gave us His Son. Mamas, if you feel your pain is not understood by any of those attempting to console you, your God understands.
Merry Christmas, readers.
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