It's the time of year when cards keep the USPS in business, and families are left with the decision of whether or not to include a letter. With social media, almost everyone knows everything about us as it is. Yet, one time a year, we have a chance to share our highlights, dreams, and well wishes on a piece of festive paper, complete with our picture of smiling faces, coordinating outfits, and Christmas catch phrases.
For some of us, however, the "Merry" in our Christmas may seem a little out of reach. Some of us have been through hell-on-earth. Some of us are bereaved, broken, and bewildered. So what do we say? What do we compose for a letter no one wants to read?
I, myself, didn't do a letter this year. What would people read that they didn't know already? We had our son, who brings light and life to our lives along with Little Miss. We miss our daughter, Harlynn, every moment of every day. That sums up our year. Our days. Every day.
Yesterday's sermon, however, gave me pause. (Again. It's like God speaks through His Word or something. Weird.) Christmas letters are so much more than a highlight reel. They're a testimony. I could have written a letter this year...and it might have gone something like this:
Season's greetings from our family to yours.
This year was full of heartache and hope, as was the year before. There is not a season, or a month, or a week, or a day, we do not miss our baby girl. Our aching and longing for her is a permanent fixture, as if it has now joined our family as a physical member. We feel her presence, yet her void, every moment.
Little Miss had her Christmas program at church, and while it was cute and adorable, I was struck by the fact we'll never see Harlynn perform. I'll never pick out her Christmas dress. Fix her hair in pigtails. We'll skip right over the years of her involvement and prepare Little Man for his performance debuts. The holidays especially, amid their cheer and joy, are an ever-present reminder of the moments we'll never have.
There are days when the heartache overcomes me. Days when I crumble beneath the weight of my grief. Days when the lack of understanding from others only adds to the burden of my suffering. There are days that are incredibly dark and heavy, and the feeling of missing Harlynn wraps itself around me and rests upon my shoulders. I still feel incomplete. I still feel broken. I still feel amiss.
However...there is hope. I look back on this year and I see the many blessings we received. The many ways in which we were provided for. The many comforts heaped upon us in our hours of need. Little Man arrived safely, and has been an immeasurable joy. His addition to our family has brought more love (and less sleep) than we could have predicted. Our jobs, our home, our time together as a family, our time with loved ones, the friends who have been rock-solid for us - we can't give enough thanks or praise to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.
God gave us clarity. Direction. Purpose. He gave us freedom to mourn. To rejoice. He gave us health. He gave us light and life. He gave us comfort. Understanding. He gave us forgiveness. Hope. Future.
He gave us the ability to see, and to recognize, His light in the midst of our tunnels.
As this year draws to a close and we once again surge ahead to the "new" and the unknown, we will trust. We will cling. We will believe no matter what lies ahead, He holds us. In our brokenness, in our joy, and in our journey, we lean on Him with every step.
May your Christmas be gentle, and may your hearts feel full.
Praying for and with you,