I feel so very happy – like I have received an early Christmas gift. Since a week ago Friday, I have had events – both social, and spiritual/church-related (and even better, combined – whoopee) – which have rejuvenated my spirit. This may not sound like a big deal to you, but it is a very big deal to me.
Last Christmas, my family was dealing with the loss of my husband’s long-time job. I was not feeling very merry. My children were not feeling very merry. We were looking to the future with trepidation and fear. So what did I do? I closed myself off to the people I cared most about. I responded an instant “no” to the Evite of my dear friend Cathy who hosts a lovely Christmas brunch, chock-a-block with incredible Christian women from our parish. I am sure I also said no to my awesome “boozy” friends who wanted to celebrate with a glass or two of Christmas cheer. Hey, all are welcome in this place. We are all God’s children.
This year, despite the recent loss of my dear mom, and my funk of not only feeling poor physically but also feeling perennially behind the eight ball logistically, I said “yes” to more than my usual invites. It even surprised me, as social as I like to think that I am. The MMPG Christmas meeting at Pam’s house inspired me to honor my mother who just passed, my parish’s Life Teen Special Needs group reminded to me to dance as if no one was looking, and my Marist Love & Logic ladies group said we are all in this together – no matter what our children’s age. I also encountered in this small space of time: my friend Cathy’s gathering of “incredible Christian women whom I seek to emulate,” my former Bible Study’s rock star moms who foster newborns while raising their own families, and lastly – an amazing group of women at my parish “Walking with Purpose” who reach out regularly to moms like me with welcoming invitations to “come and seek.” That’s a lot for a week during Advent.
Wow. I feel loved. I feel recognized. I feel like someone is seeking my miserable, “Debbie Downer” company. I feel like even when I am a horrible hermit crab, tucked inside my shell and so barely wanting to venture out, someone wants to draw me out and interact with me. That feels so great. What a beautiful reflection of God’s love during this season of Advent! The second week of Advent the theme was “Love,” as we lit the second purple candle.
“Love is knowing that someone cares for us more than themselves. Love is the realization someone would lay down their life for us. Loves involves commitment, and commitment involves sacrifice and time. God loves us beyond any human love we have ever experienced. Love can be ours this Christmas as part of The Christmas Gift.”
Source: St. Brigid Advent program
I leave you all with a note of thanks for those who have invited me (and others who may be like me) to partake in fellowship even though I (or they) may seem like a huge buzz-kill some days (not exactly the most Christian words, but hey, they fit). I strive to reflect God’s glory, even in my challenges, even in my family’s challenges. Thanks for continuing to invite me to be a part of your world. It means the world to little ‘ole me. I also promise you, that reaching out to others will reap the same fruit. Keep reaching out to those who are difficult or challenging. To the neighbor who drives you crazy. To the widow on your street who is always complaining about something. Love, Love, and Love some more. Even when it is so, so hard.
“Lord, I love you and know in spite of everything I can depend on your love for me. As I encounter times that are rushed, even crazy, I will repeat the phrase, “I love you, Lord” to remind myself that I cannot do everything alone. When my chores, holiday preparations, and gift-buying overwhelm me, and I face more darkness, I will turn to you and your LOVE. You will point me towards The Greatest Gift that awaits me on Christmas. Amen.”
Source: Brigid Catholic Church Advent 2016 Program