Wednesday, December 24, 2014

When We Finally Tell Our Stories

Christmas is my favorite time of year - the smell of pine, the twinkling of white lights all around, the festive energy and the timeless traditions that mark yet another year with family and friends. I start decorating for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving and relish every day of sparkle and merry through the New Year. We bake treats and share them with neighbors, make Christmas crafts and mail them to friends, watch movies and sing carols and drive around to look at Christmas lights. We host and attend Christmas parties, wrap lots of gifts and watch them wait with anticipation under our tree for weeks. 

I know, though, that for many who have lost a loved one - a friend, a parent, a spouse, a child - Christmas is an extremely tender season, filled with both joyful and bitter reminders of what once was. I, too, have felt the sting of loss during the holidays after losing our first son. I, too, have wrestled with holding both the joy of the season and the sadness of the loss...

This year, I find myself experiencing a more subtle, silent sting. A different sort of loss unearthing itself in discontent and irritability. Not the sting of death, but the pain of all the other sorrows that peck and maim and remind us we are meant for more. That all is not yet whole.

Empty promises 
and failed attempts 
and unmet desires. 

A loss, not of what was, 
but of what could have been
what should have been. 

Hopes deferred.

A loss of wholeness 
and acceptance 
and security. 

A loss of normalcy,
and stability
and freedom.

Change not seen,
children not conceived, 
relationships not mended. 

Hopes deferred.

I am both grateful for my family, for my children, for faithful friends and festive gatherings - and aching for all the friends and family not at the table this year. I am both hopeful and happy with the season I find myself walking through - and tenderly connected to real hopes deferred and brokenness that severs. 

This Christmas I hold - with so many of you - joy and hope and life in one hand, and loss and disappointment and mess in the other. I am learning to own the truth of all parts of the story, all parts that are me, right now. And I wish for you, this Christmas, the peace and freedom of owning your story, too*. 

Merry Christmas!

*I will be releasing a 30 Day writing challenge - a chance for anyone interested in the practice of telling your story - to join myself and other like-minded friends in a creative endeavor to capture the power of each of our stories in writing. More details to come - stay tuned!

(Disclaimer: This blog is not affiliated with Rob Bell or Oprah, but I do think they both rock! 
For more amazing video clips by Bell, go here.)

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