My apologies in advance. Dear friend, if you are hunting for a wrapped up in sparkling paper post, please skip my words. Real. Raw. Unedited. My syllables today.
This picture, 5 years ago today popped up on my Facebook feed. Just moments before, tears trickled down my cheeks as I dropped off my children to spend some time with their dad on Christmas. Everywhere, as I drove home alone, I watched as families gathered, giggled. Reminders of my shattered family.
Whispering the hard, daring to ask the tough. Can joy exist in the midst of the pain? Isn't that what Christmas whispers to us? Wrapped up in random blankets, God gave us His Son. Joy abounding. Angels singing. Shepherds coming to worship. All because God loved us so crazy much and he knew we would need him.
The manger pointing to the cross. He knew the pain Jesus would endure. He knows the pain we endure. Abandonment. Betrayal. Sickness. Disease. Divorce. Death. and the list goes on. Jesus was the answer for all of the pain and heartbreak and anguish. Joy came to infiltrate our pain. Even when we didn't ask or understand.
When life hits hard, he holds your hand. When all you can do is fall to your knees, he wraps his arms around you. When you have no strength to even breathe, he lets you sob in his arms while he carries you. My testimony. My life.
Sometimes, this life sucks. There is a real enemy that roars around like a lion just waiting to devour. We all have felt his teeth. On our families, our children, our self esteem, our (insert your own word). But it must be possible in the midst of the teeth and tears, to cling to joy.
A single mom can stay up late wrapping presents on her own, cling to joy and wrap his present too. A driver can hand a crisp $5 bill to a homeless stranger, whether they deserve it or not, cling to joy and slip away. A cancer patient can vomit with a daunting round of chemo, cling to joy and snuggle with her baby boy.
Maybe Joy never fades. Maybe in the midst of the hard. the horrible. the horrendous. Joy splinters with you. And the shards spread out to others, each little piece infecting in a beautiful glorious way.
"You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent." Psalm 30:11
"The Lord is my strength and my shield: my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song." Psalm 28:7
Maybe Joy. In the midst of the happy or the hard, may your Christmas be drenched in it. Splintered joy and all.