My daughter, Annarose, posted this on Facebook a few days before Christmas and I asked to share it with you. She is a deep thinking, eighteen-year-old with wisdom beyond her years, born of suffering as a sister of kids from “hard places” and later through the loss of Kalkidan. I love this girl beyond words. She leaves tonight, co- leading a team of students to Nicaragua through the University of Idaho.
•Christmas 2012, my Sophomore year: little sister is hospitalized in the psych ward over the holiday.
•Christmas 2013: little sister is living in residential treatment, 362 miles from home.
•Christmas 2014: Best Christmas of my life. Two days later, my little sister dies in a car accident.
Life comes apart.
•Christmas 2015: Our first Christmas without her. Beautiful & Hard.
•This Christmas: My lovely friend Mamta is in a car accident and goes to be with the Lord. Grief twofold.
Christmas is complicated.
This time of year is so beautiful and festive. It’s overflowing with love and joy. But it also carries so much pain. I look at the shimmering tree and think of the moment I knew… my sister wasn’t going to be okay. I followed my siblings up the stairs, past the glittering lights, to where we would be told she was no more. We would stay there a long time, crying out in agony.
I dance in the snow, sifting delicate flakes between my fingers and think of the moments I spent out on the rope swing, tilting back until the white world and white heavens blended together and I felt like I didn’t exist anymore. That would be less painful, to not exist.
I plug in the sparkling white lights that drape my room and am carried back to the long nights where I couldn’t sleep and instead hunched over my guitar, making up songs about this strange reality I now lived in.
I help carry the gorgeous evergreen up to the house. Soon it will grace our living room with its glorious presence. But when I look at it, I can’t help seeing our tree from two years ago, carelessly tossed out by the fence as we hurried to take down all the Christmas decorations before my parents got home from the hospital. It was just too painful to have Christmas anymore.
I feel numb this year. Where did the joy go? Where did the old me go?
When Mamta went to be with Jesus on Thursday, all I wanted to do was worship. All I wanted was to crawl into my Dad’s arms and be comforted by His presence. It was the same with Kalkidan.
This season, I’ve been feeling sad and confused at my lack of energy and excitement for the holiday. The magic is gone. I’ve been trying to force it, making myself sit down to plan Christmas cookies as if it’s a chore, trying to conjure inorganic delight in myself. I feel broken.
Last night, I was reminded that the Christmas spirit, holiday vibes, fun, traditions — that’s not what this is about. It’s not all about smiles and cheer. Christmas is about us being lost in a deep, dark brokenness and a God who loves us so much, He wrapped himself in human flesh and was born to a couple of outcast teenagers in a cave in order to come alongside us.
It’s about a Savior who yearns deeply for us and rescues us from this darkness. I don’t have to clean myself up or paste on fake smiles. This is exactly what Christ came for.
He came for me. He came for you.
He came to wash us clean and fill the world with light again, pushing this great big darkness back until it has nowhere to flee.
My heart may hurt, my eyes may be filled with tears, I may feel weak and numb this Christmas. But I know that in my profound brokenness, I am LOVED by a God bigger than all of this.
He is stronger. He is enough. He is my comfort.