The months from October-January have always been my favorite. The fall weather that descends through precious holidays ending with a brand new start and year – usually with a thick, gorgeous first snow tucked in somewhere. I just love it. So many of my favorite things all packed into 4 beautiful months.
A few years ago, I started to dread these months. The holidays. The traditions and “memory making” moments. These times are especially precious when there are children in your home, but my children HATED the holidays. Four years ago we experienced what we like to refer to as “the angry Christmas.” From the day the Christmas tree was set up there was anger. Tears, tantrums, fits, hateful words, nightmares, and battles we hadn’t dealt with in months. She. Was. Angry. In utter exhaustion we took the tree down on Christmas Day as soon as the children were tucked into bed.
The next years weren’t much easier. The holidays weren’t full of magic for my children no matter how hard I tried to sprinkle everything with the kind of loving, overflowing, Merry Christmas, sparkly fun that I had grown up with. The beauty of these glorious days just made them more painful to their hurting and confused little hearts. And I grew weary. I grew tired. Both mentally and physically. I began to grow bitter in my confusion and pain.
Why do children have to suffer like this? It isn’t fair.
Why do my babies who are so loved still have to feel this brokenness and pain? I don’t understand.
Why did God call me to be a mother to children with hurts I cannot kiss away? I feel so helpless.
Last year it all came to a head. We were enjoying Thanksgiving together with some extended family and I was given a priceless gift. One that I was anything but thankful for.
I was given additional pictures. Pictures of a past. Pictures of babies alone. Naked. Filthy. Malnourished. Afraid. Crying. Abused.
These were my babies. My babies just a few months before I met them for the first time.
As much as I knew that one day I would be inexplicably grateful for this knowledge of those days and the insight that knowledge would give, all I could do was cry as the weight in my heart that had been building reached a full crescendo.
Once again I was helpless. My arms physically ached with the desire to reach into those photos and wrap my arms around those babies. Or to simply erase those memories! Replacing them with warmth, with love, with food, with cuddles, with sweet clothes and blankets. Replacing them with the knowledge of unconditional love. Only love.
It was as if a dark cloud had settled over me. The weight I had been called to bear was just too much.
I was a Mommy who couldn’t take the pain from her babies.
I was a Mommy who could see, but couldn’t help.
I was a Mommy forced to watch from afar.
I was a Mommy with hands that couldn’t hold.
I was a Mommy with love that couldn’t erase.
My heart felt completely engulfed in pain.
It was only a few weeks later, standing there in church when the background picture of a song we were singing caught my attention.
Naked. In a filthy stable. Crying. In extreme danger.
And then my mind flashed forward to another image.
Naked. Alone. Hungry. Abused. Filthy.
I began to sob as I realized that my heart had reached it’s breaking point just in time.
Just in time for Christmas.
Just in time for the weeks dedicated to remembering a baby.
A God who became man.
A Savior who walked the earth in human form and who experienced the utter brokenness of this fallen world.
A baby who grew to be a man who gives us hope beyond our painful reality.
A tiny, helpless human who was handed down by His Father God to brand-new human parents.
A baby destined to feel pain.
A baby to breathe peace and understanding into my babies’ stories.
And a Father.
With a sovereign plan.
Destined to watch His only Son suffer excruciating humiliation and pain.
A Father forced to turn His face away.
A plan that was beyond human understanding to make us right before Him.
In the fullness of time the plan was and will be complete.
And hope was brought to a hurting mama’s heart.
Just in time for Christmas.
I finished that season with a quiet hope.
Not with understanding. (That I will not have until everything is made right again.)
But with hope. With peace. With the knowledge that I was known and understood. And my babies were known and understood.
The gospel became so much more precious to me that year. It became even more personal. Just as Jesus came to earth and took on flesh, somehow the story did the same for me. It took on flesh and form and feet. And it walked in real life. In my life. In the lives of my babies. And it literally felt like I was wrapped in the arms of a real and living God.
The magic to the season was brought back for me. I approached these wonderful months with a kind of settled excitement.
I was ready for the loving, the gift-buying, the Thanksgiving preparations, the tree-trimming. I reveled in the little moments. The memories made. Real life love and magic to be created.
And I was ready for the other moments. The anger. The hurt. The dismay. The confusion. The chaos. I knew they were coming. I knew they were real.
And it was ok. Because my Savior was real. My God was real. The story is real. The hope is real.
Christmas came to earth. And with it came hope and help. Personal and real.
Christmas hope for this Mommy’s soul.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
~ John 1:14