The Greatest Gift
Merry Christmas from the semi-colon blog!
It was a year ago Christmas Eve when I received the call that set the direction of this past year. The colonoscopy reports were in, docs were concerned, surgery was recommended. I remember trying to set aside the flood of emotions as I rejoined the family for the gift opening parade. I kept trying to brush it off as we sat in the ER later that evening until about 6 am while Mike recovered from food poisoning. It was like a ton of bricks had just hit us on what should have been the most wonderful day of the year.
I’ve been reflecting over last year’s Christmas a lot the past few days. Even with this Christmas – plans have gone awry. Our “White Christmas” has left us canceling family events and services, and we’re freezing cold in this old house. It makes me really re-think what this time of year is all about.
Growing up a church kid, I’ve always known Christmas was about Jesus’ birth. “The Reason for the Season” and “Christmas is about Christ” were ingrained in my head at an early age. But as I’ve grown and been influenced by culture and life’s situations, it’s really made me dig deeper into those common cliches and figure out what I really believe. Is Christmas still all about Christ when I’m told I have to have surgery again? Can there be joy as you’re sitting in the ER on Christmas morning? Is Jesus really the reason for the season when I cannot make it to my family’s gathering because it’s sleeting outside? Can I still celebrate even though I can’t eat all of the food?
I’ve learned this year that the only thing I need to do to celebrate Christmas is thank Jesus for what He’s done for me. I understand the temptation of skipping over God, or even cutting him out completely, all too well. But I’ve learned that it is not the way to cope with pain and suffering (although it seems reasonable at times.) Jesus offers us hope and love. He’s the source of all good things that have been, and all good things to come. I know the feeling of not wanting to believe because your days are so dark, how could you trust a God that allowed it. And while that’s another post in itself, you’ve just got to trust that God loves you, He has a purpose for you, and that trusting Him is the way to get through life’s biggest disappointments. He came here for us. He came to give us hope in the midst of a crappy world and spoiled plans. He offers us the best gift we could possibly ask for.
This Christmas, I urge anyone who can relate to those of us in the semi-colon community to discover why we celebrate Christmas. Belonging to the cancer community makes for a rough, unfair and often heartbreaking life. It’s one of the hardest things to bear. But the good news is that we do not have to bear it alone. Jesus went through the roughest thing on earth and also died an early, unfair death. And His significance is that He was God, He knew it was all going to happen, and He did it anyway for you and me. No colon issues, ER visits, sleet or snow can take away this message of promise and hope for all of us.
I wish anyone who reads my blog a very Merry Christmas. If you’re a person of faith, I encourage you this year to dig deeper and get to new levels in your relationship with Jesus. If you’re a person who doesn’t consider themselves “religious,” I pray that you give it another chance. Get to know the real Jesus. Read about what he was like. Put aside your stereotypes of Christians (although they are probably very accurate unfortunately) that hinder you from getting to know Jesus and check it out. Give it a chance. It will save your life. It will set you free from your pain, hurts and confusion. It will be the greatest gift you’ve ever received.