Our Christmas tree is brown. It’s not Christmas yet.
And my friend’s family van got repossessed. My other friend found out her husband is addicted to porn. Still another friend is suffering through a bitter divorce. One girlfriend, a single mom, can’t afford to buy gifts for her family this year… But she is not on any charity list…Nobody will give her kids gifts for her…
And then there’s me. Our tree is brown. And I yelled at my family so much Sunday morning before church, that my patient husband finally said : “you are so ugly to be around”.
I felt misunderstood. Alone. Overwhelmed by negative emotions. The stress of life and my own darkness and sin.
When I am feeling judged and misunderstood by my husband I clean. It’s the blessing disguised in the conflict. I’m not a good cleaner, so this is very good! At the kitchen sink, with ten minutes before we had to be out the door, I was still in my pjs and robe, washing dishes. Crying.
I’ve been told that before.
You’re so ugly to be around.
A troubled teenager trying to make sense of things. Yelling and screaming at the world. And instead of receiving the love I desperately wanted, I got. That.
You’re so ugly to be around.
Here I am again Lord. Still the same person. The same struggles. And wow. I just heard the same words again.
I told Michael, “I’m not going to church.”
Miraculously, the boys were dressed and ready. Michael was dressed and ready. It was a special Christmas Gathering that day to look forward to.
But I wasn’t ready.
So I made my decision.
Michael left, without me and the boys. He had to be at church early to serve. I knew he wanted me to sit by him. He likes when I sit by him in the front while he serves.
But I didn’t want him to have to sit by someone who is ugly to be around. So I stayed behind.
But God. He intervened.
He soothed me. With the warm dish water. With my tears. Mercy.
And He nudged me. To ask the question. The one I ask for my hurting friends. For my kids. My husband. Everyone I love. But I didn’t ask it for myself.
Through tears I asked.
Is Christmas for me? Is Your gift of everlasting love… for me?
And with that question my soul was finally on its knees. Humble before God. Poured out. All the shame of my faults and failures. Again. I was ready to receive: The gift of Christmas.
God, in that moment, received ME. Like a mother bird hides her young in her wings. I was enveloped in His presence. Right there at the kitchen sink. A spiritual experiencing of God. All the simultaneous receiving was a tender love exchange. Me receiving His grace. Him receiving me and my brokenness.
And God said Yes! Indeed! Christmas is for everyone. Christmas is for you, Cheri. I love you. With my life. And the truth of Christmas killed the bad stuff in my head and shone brightly, victoriously, in my heart.
I found something to wear. Put some make-up on. Packed the kids in the van. Got to church just in time to slide in the seat next to Michael. The choir sang. Angels sang too. Glory to God in the highest. A child, the king of the world, is born. His name is Immanuel. God with us.
Merry Christmas! May you know that the gift of Christmas is for you!
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6