Although this is belated I wants to share some disjointed thoughts about Christmas this year. I hope your Christmas was filled with love – from family, from friends, from strangers. Love is a gift to be shared!
Christmas in its purist form is a celebration of life and salvation. From the birth of the Christ child to the promise of resurrection, this is the beginning of so much in our lives. In the less pure forms, it is commercialism and greed. A friend of mine shared on Facebook that her daughter cried because she didn’t get everything she wanted for Christmas. This friend had made the decision not to fall into the commercialism of Christmas this year. She shared that in years past despite all of the gifts that were received, her children complained that they didn’t get more. This year, each child got 3 gifts that met a want or a need this year, but that their greatest gift of all was a mother that loved them and cared for them regardless of the number or types of gifts under the tree. The story continued that about 20 minutes after the tears, the children were playing together peacefully. I honor my friend in her decision. Yes, there was a financial component to it, they couldn’t afford to give the kids as much as in the past, but it was a conscious decision to focus on love, not gifts. I am frequently reminded about how sad the materialism of our society makes me. The excess that many of us live in without even realizing it is excess. I am guilty of this. I want more things that I think will make my life better, but I know that that isn’t really the case. Yes, shoes without holes in them in the winter is good. A car that gets me to work since there is no public transportation that would get me there is needed where I live. I don’t believe that my husband and I live extravagantly by any means, but even so, I know we have so much more than others.
I shared my stories from Reynosa in the past (here, too), and what it was like seeing how little so many people had, yet how happy they were. The same is true from my time in Nicaragua (I will share about that in the future). This week after Christmas is when the group from Rooftop Community Church goes to Reynosa to build homes with Strategic Alliance Homes for the Homeless. Looking at the pictures that are already coming back both breaks my heart and mends it. To know the reasons why this group needs to go to Reynosa crushes my spirit; to see the joy of the people, both residents of La Colonia and the volunteers makes my soul rejoice. I am reminded there is no joy without pain; no redemption without sin. My prayers are with the residents of La Colonia and all of those without homes, those that live in extreme poverty and illness, and also with the people that care enough to make a difference in the lives of others. This is not a vacation, it is cold and rainy this year, much like 2009 was. The people are covered in mud and the paint doesn’t dry very well in the rain, but those that are there are spreading light and love. They are sharing Christ’s love by being His hands and feet, a shoulder to lean on, and being a friend even when the language barrier prevents conversation. I pray for the volunteers that have traveled not only from Rooftop, but from other churches, other states. I pray for their safety (although I have heard that while Strategic Alliance is actively building homes, the cartels leave the area alone for they fear Jesus) not only in Mexico but during all of their travels and with the actual activity of building. I pray for their families that are back home. But mostly, I pray for their hearts to be forever changed by this experience. That they take what is placed on their hearts and share it with others when they get home again. That this trip is not the end of their giving.
Christmas as a time of rebirth has given me some more time for healing personally. I still have nightmares and dreams about patients lost. I still find myself choking up when talking to clients. Despite all of this, I keep moving forward, knowing that although I can’t save every patient, I know that I have done everything I could. I know that someday I will be able to forgive myself for not being perfect, for not saving everyone. I cannot control everything or everyone – that is a bigger job than I can handle. The nightmares are less. The crying is getting a little better. The forgiveness will come bit by bit. I am giving my pain to God. It sounds like a strange birthday gift to Jesus, but when I think about what He wants for each of us, I believe it is happiness. We cannot be happy if we hold onto pain, to hatred, to guilt. Perhaps this is a selfish gift, I don’t know, but I know that I can do His work a lot better if I am not buried in depression, guilt, pain, anger, and other feelings of self-loathing. Those feelings I believe are needed to bring change, but to grow, we have to let go of them.
What was your gift to Jesus for his birthday? It is never too late! Remember, Jesus loves you. He was born for you. He died for you. His love for you is greater than any love you could ever receive from another person. I hope you decide to accept His love if you haven’t already. If now isn’t the time, don’t worry too much, He will still love you when you are ready. He is holding out His arms waiting for you to snuggle into His embrace. I think in the long run, all He really wants is for each of us to be His.