Tis the season, for highly charged emotions and unrealistic expectations.   The media has sold us a bill of goods by which we judge ourselves and our holidays.   There are these pictures of families, sitting around fireplaces, sipping hot cocoa, in houses we can assume are paid for, with food we can assume is in the pantry, no one is fighting, worried, or taking anti-depressants.  As the lights of a perfectly polished Christmas tree glisten, you can feel the happiness and serenity radiate from this imaginary ideal family.

Somewhere in us we believe that’s what we are supposed to have.  That’s how it’s supposed to look.   When it doesn’t get sorted out that way, we “should” ourselves and thus begins the Christmas shame spiral.  Then of course we hear one of the many Christmas songs start playing, if only in our minds, declaring that we will get gifts if we’ve been NICE and not NAUGHTY.

I woke up this morning questioning myself.  Why am I so afraid?  Why am I alone?  What have I done wrong?  After all this therapy work, why does it still hurt?  I couldn’t help but realize as the stream of questions poured out, that surely I’m not the only one whose asking these things.  Surely there are many more looking up to heaven asking, Why?

I don’t know why.  We may never know why.  Fortunately it isn’t the WHY that sets us free, but rather it is the TRUTH that liberates us.

It’s hard to see the truth.  It’s even harder to feel the love, especially this time of year, which is sort of odd, since that’s supposed to be the reason for the season.  Love and truth.

So I paused, I looked at my questions again.  I’m not as afraid as I’ve been in the past.  I don’t have a boyfriend or a spouse, but I’m not alone.  None of it has anything to do with right and wrong or naughty and nice, that’s the stuff of Santa Clause songs.  As for the hurt, it isn’t acute, unless I let it be.

After disarming my internal defender, who is capable of debating and rationalizing my life away,  in the deep quiet of my house, I heard two words, “the manager”.

“Ok God, I say, take me to the manager.  Tell me what you mean.”

In my minds eye, I go back, 2000 plus years, into a dirty barn.  There in this handmade crib, lies a baby.  It seems unlikely that I’m here.  It’s the Christmas story.  I know it.  “So, God,” I ask, “what is it that you want me to see?”  I hear a whisper in my ear, “I know the plans I have for you.  Plans for good and not for evil, for a future and a hope.”  They are words I know well, from the book of Jeremiah.

And then I see it.  It’s as though the baby has been lifted from the manger and lying in his stead is a gold ring.  I pick it up.  The engraving reads, GRACE.

With tears running down my face, I know the truth, the truth that liberates me this Christmas.  No matter what I have done or not done, no matter where I have been or not been, no matter how wrong or right or naughty or nice, no matter how alone, married, divorced, childless, or with a house full, NO MATTER WHAT, I am SAVED.  God doesn’t see me like Santa does.  He has no list.  He does not hang paintings of Norman Rockwell Christmas in his home, though I’m sure he’s keen on Norman.

He’s shows me a manager and says, “welcome home”.

 

—- Tyler Hayes

—- Sending you love wherever you are in the world