I am sitting here on Christmas Morning and pondering thoughts of the year gone by… It has been a really hard year. I am thankful to G-D for his love and his help, even when I wondered how I got here. I decided to share this with you, in case there is anyone out there that has had a hard year. If you feel alone this Christmas or just left hurting then I hope you will feel some comfort . I hope you will see that you are not alone.
I recently had the opportunity to be sick and not have the money for proper medical care, since I had lost my Job and my health insurance, when I lost my health. I say opportunity because at first it was just a horrendous challenge to get through, until the gift of friendship helped me to see that I didn’t have to look at the circumstance the way I had seen it. I found myself sitting in a clinic that was established for the homeless and the low income. I had heard horror stories about this place and came with lots of preconceived notions. As I sat there I have to say some of the clientele scared me. They stared at me like i was their next meal. I was alone and felt utterly hopeless, even though I knew that I wasn’t. I had thoughts swarming in my head. Thoughts that said, ” How did you go from your dream job, a car a luxury apartment and all that you needed to this? How could the actions of someone else cost me this much? How could I it be that I could have my life ripped away by the actions of another? How is it that I could lose so much? I sat in public and just wept. I just allowed myself to feel the pain and not judge it just let the pain leak from me in the form of liquid tears. I reached out to a friend by text who reminded me that this was an opportunity. An opportunity for the future. Someday I will be back on top and it will be in those moments when I maybe the healthcare professional or the person on the other side. It will be very important for me to remember in the good times how I felt here so I can show others true empathy, not sympathy but empathy. There is a vast difference.
The rest of the experience really wasn’t bad. I was treated with excellent care and I was treated with respect and dignity. I had an asthma attack while seeing the dr and they gave me a breathing treatment at no charge because I needed it. I experienced the mercy of God from strangers that I don’t know if they knew him or not. I was left in wonder at how God had worked everything out, even if it wasn’t how I would have done it.
I was recently spending time with an old friend. Someone that I have known for almost 20 years. We have had our ups and downs, sometimes being close and sometimes not talking for a year at a time. As we shared we went to a depth of emotional intimacy we had not gone before. She said to me that there were times she didn’t like me because I always seemed so perfect. She told me that I always said the right thing, was always so patient and kind and it would anger her because she just couldn’t be as good as me. She then said and I guess sometimes that was a mask wasn’t it? I said yes, actually I was trying so hard to be acceptable to you and do all the things I thought you required in order for me to be loved by you and then once i did them, you pulled back from me. I found myself constantly embroiled in the search to be acceptable.
There are two things that everyone needs and wants, to know they are loved and to know they are safe. I believe even God longs for the acceptance of his children. All we have to do to be right with God is accept what he did for us. Pastor Bob Yandian put it this way:
The world has the idea that when they stand before God in judgment, they will be allowed to argue their case individually. When asked, “If you died now, would you go to heaven?” most answer, “Yes, I believe I would.” They reason that God will look at their good deeds and compare them to their bad deeds. If the good outweighs the bad, they will go to heaven. If the bad out weighs the good, they will end up in hell.
But their reasoning is wrong. God does not deal with us as a field of corn, all standing independently, each with our own roots. God deals with us as a tree, with all the limbs and branches coming from one trunk and root system. When the roots or trunk are severed, the whole tree dies. In Adam, you are a part of a dead tree. In Christ, you are a part of a living tree. People will not go to heaven because of what they have done. They will go to heaven because of who they are in. People will not go to hell because of sin, they will go to hell because of who they are in. In Adam all die. In Christ all are made alive.
So who are you in?
This Christmas I didn’t have the money to give big extravagant gifts. I choose to give something that cost me more than money could possible ever. I gave acceptance. I don’t have to agree with your lifestyle or with your decisions, but I accept you for who G-D made you. There are many things that I can do without this Christmas that won’t cause a hardship for me if I don’t have them, but you are not one of those things. I need you. You are a part of me in ways I don’t understand. I urge you this Christmas to reach out to those you have in your life that are separated from you by division. Give the gift of Love. Let the wonder of love overwhelm you this Christmas. Even if you are alone physically, take the time to stop and thank the check out lady or the gas station attendant for what they are doing, for being there to serve you at that moment. When we are thankful in the little moments, it has a way of leaking into big moments.
So I want to ask you, who are you this Christmas? Are you like Herod who said it must be my way or the highway and hurt people because things weren’t done the way he wanted? Are you like Mary who had said, “be it on to me Lord as you desire?” Are you like Joseph who just quietly obeyed the Lord and did what was right even when that meant that he faced shame and mistreatment? (After all, if you think taking a pregnant girl home for christmas, one that you aren’t married to but responsible for is, is difficult with family now, think what it was like 2,000 yrs ago.)
Whoever you resemble in the Christmas story, I urge you to Accept God’s Love for you and to accept one another.
Have yourself a Merry Christmas!