It is snowing.
Snow reminds me of being a little girl, when I lived in Mt. Lookout. I think I was 3 or almost four. It is one of my earliest memories, walking down to Mt. Lookout square in the snow to get ice cream at UDF with my father. I remember very clearly the huge snowflakes in the lamplight and holding my fathers hand and how I thought snow and ice cream seemed to go together, yet it was funny to be getting ice cream when it was cold. Snow represents for me wonderment and miracles. Every snowflake, different, each one a unique crystalline creation, sweet on the tongue like ice cream.
Softly the snow fell on my cheeks as I walked by lamplight down the street alone this Christmas Eve. I was reflecting on this year in my life. One of the most difficult years and most fulfilling years I have had thus far. Difficult because I learned love in the absence of the person that I had hoped to spend my life loving. Sometimes, learning to love comes in the absence of it, in the dark places. Hope is always in the dark, always where you least expect to find it. Much like how love came into this world, in the form of a child born among animals and placed in a manager, in a dark place, where no one expected him to be.
I had to come face to face with the fullness of what I had become, which wasn’t who I truly was. This was an excruciating process. It took me to places that I did not want to see, and when I did, I was filled with shame. Years of bad behavior, selfishness, dishonesty and fear. I lived a false life, and I had to take responsibility for that. Years from running from who I was. There were times I was very much Scrooge with my heart, and while I had a million reasons as to why this was, it really didn’t matter, because…when you decide you want to live differently, you must fully accept that you authored your story thus far. It is not my ex husbands fault, my father’s lack of emotionality, the numerous men who hurt me, the girls that made fun of me, the people that rejected me. No…these were obstacles to be overcome, not excuses for not being the loving creation that I was made to be.
It was a fulfilling year because I found the love I thought I lost in my relationship with my God. In learning to develop a relationship with him, the Greatest Artist I’ve ever met (as I like to refer to him), I have begun the journey home…to myself. I embraced my mission and purpose, to serve, and become the best version of myself, the woman that God created me to be: writer, whimsical, warm, wise, kind and is an artist in cahoots with love. Sure…there were always bits of this in me; in fact, I think some people fell in love with me because they saw that. But I had not learned to live it. Really live as I am, bring it consistently to my life and those I love. Be real.
“James, was three years old…when they came back down, Mom came to pick him up. The teacher asked to speak with him…we had a baby Jesus doll…when it came to James he held the baby Jesus for a long time, he looked up and said, “And to think they killed him.” Christmas is the beginning of our story, we are the people of hope…towards Jesus overcoming death. You have a new beginning, you have a new story of hope to begin”
-Dr. Alan Hunt
Dr. Hunt was speaking about hope, what struck me was the phrase, “And to think they killed him”. How often have we killed hope? How often have we looked into the dark abyss of fear or pain and despaired and turned away, thus killing hope? Hope, the Christ within us. This Christ who came in the world to teach us how to live, to teach us what God is like, to teach us how to love each other. When we choose not to love like this.
I have learned though, that hope, and love and possibility cannot die as much as we try to kill it. This is the promise of Christ and the truth of love. Love is who we are, hope is who we are, and God is a lover. A lover of us and the messes we sometimes become.
“The thing about Christmas is God could have made it a lot easier on himself, but he chose not to. He chose not to because he’s not a minimalist. He didn’t say what’s the least I can do to bring about some salvation. He’s a lover. God’s a lover. And the lover never asks what’s the least I can do. That’s not the question of lover. The lover always asks what’s the most I can do.”-Matthew Kelly
Lovers always ask, what can I do for you? How can I open myself up to you. I had played small my whole life. I was stingy and had given only pieces of myself, and in this, I got only pieces back. I was the author…of my own heartbreak and the heartbreak of another person. As soon as I had come to accept the truth of this, then I could forgive myself, as God had already forgiven me. That’s how it works…this forgiveness thing. It starts with the truth. Taking responsibility for my contributions, not anyone else’s, mine. This was the greatest gift I gave to myself this year. This does not mean that I am a bad person, or should wallow in my short falls or failures, it means…I get to do better now and grow. When you know better, you do better. Simple concept, hard for most of us to get. Probably, because while we think we are going to “do better” you can’t until you actually take responsibility for your actions and behavior.
This year, I fell in love with “The Greatest Artist I’ve Ever Met”. For me, this was essential to learn how to love. It was through developing a relationship with him, reading his words, speaking to him in the quiet of my heart, and looking for him in everything that surrounds me, and asking him to shoulder my pain with me, to be present with me in my dark moments that I have learned how to love others.
I’m not perfect yet at this of course, but I strive each day to do better then I did the day before.
But…it’s snowing…on Christmas Eve…
The promise of snow for me is miracles. Christmas is the promise of hope. The hope that we all can be transformed by love. The love of God.
This I believe…with my whole heart.