“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18 (NLT)
Yesterday at our Christmas day service, our pastor spoke on the “First Christmas”. Yes, he did mention the day, but he went on to talk about those whose day was the first Christmas without a loved one. I looked across the aisle and watched a young woman sitting there alone. Her husband died suddenly a couple of months ago. He was just a year older than my youngest daughter. My heart broke for her and yet in her eyes I saw a peace and strength that can only come from the Lord.
The other ‘first’ Christmas mentioned was for those whose health was not the same as it was a year ago, or the finances were not the same. Christmas amplifies changes in lives. The day is built around memories and times in the past that were different than the current state.
I cried through most of the sermon. Not because of any personal changes, but because the day often finds me teary eyed. I am a softy. I can cry at a song. Obviously, I can cry at a sermon. I cry when gifts are opened. I cry at cards from Dale. I’m a Christmas cryer.
The sermon also stirred up memories that I try to stuff deep down at this season. Christmas and New Years of 1966 was my first Christmas without my Mom. As I was 11, Christmas day was like any kid’s Christmas. My older sister made certain it was a Christmas to remember. I do. I remember most of the gifts I received that year. A new pair of ice skates that I didn’t have to rent any more. A new jacket, a book I often think about still. There were twelve board games under the tree. That was amazing! Christmas was a good one that year.
New Year’s Eve, though is what has made me dislike the holiday still. Each year I force memories of that evening deep down. New Year’s Eve going into 1967 found me in tears. I could not fathom a year without my Mom. No memories to make with her ever again. I didn’t think I would ever be the same.
In a way, I never was the same. But, as the scripture above says, God was near to my broken heart. He was there with my crushed spirit. Since that time, I have been renewed several times. My sisters and I grew. We flourished. We functioned. We accepted that death was a part of life. It was our normal.
Whenever I talk with my sisters about this, we have the same mind. Yes, it happened. Yes, we dealt with it. Yes, we are stronger for the experience.
Change happens. Bad change as well as good. We cannot dwell and continue to suffer the loss of loved ones, health, finances. We need to live in the present. To see what is happening now. To be blessed by the little things in life. To marvel at the cold winter days and glory in the heat of a winter sun.
“Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.” Psalm 37:25 (NLT)
God is more than our sufficiency. He tends to us. He comforts us. He provides.
He provides even when memories stuffed away somehow make their way to the surface and come out in the form of tears.