Christmas 2019: All of the Because.
Firstly, I want to say Happy Christmas, everyone. :) I hope that things have been well for you all, that time with loved ones was joyful and fun! You know… It’s been years since I’ve celebrated Christmas on purpose. ...
Firstly, I want to say Happy Christmas, everyone. :) I hope that things have been well for you all, that time with loved ones was joyful and fun!
You know… It’s been years since I’ve celebrated Christmas on purpose. Sure, I’ve gone to family functions with my (now ex) husband, visiting his family, but that wasn’t something I really wanted to do, it was out of a sense of, ‘Well, I mean, it’s his family, they’re my in-laws now, and what could it hurt to get to know them a little?’
This year … has been really something. It’s been worlds different for me, and I blame – largely – my mentor and friend on this one. Don’t worry, he knows. He’s heard me having a go at him: ‘How dare you, what have you done to me!’ To which he just laughs and says, ‘Told ya!’ Sometimes, honestly, I think the man just gets such a kick out of how frustrated I get with all of this. And none of it in a mean-spirited way, but in a ‘You’re so funny when you’re frustrated and trying to think too much on this!’ kind of way.
Nonetheless, I have to say this holiday’s been really something. Especially Christmas Eve. I got a really cool present, came to me in the form of a conversation I had that I did not anticipate having, ever. Something I’d been praying for, for some time. And the prayers will continue, but I’ll take what I can as it comes and celebrate it for everything that it is: the overwhelming gift from my Beloved.
I remember thinking the whole time I was praying the Rosary before Mass Christmas morning, ‘This is my first Christmas as a Catholic. This is the first Christmas in a very long time that I’ve celebrated without feeling pain about it in my soul. This is the first time I’ve really understood some of the Why and the How and I’m still trying to figure out what that means as a whole thing, but this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever been able to participate in, next to Easter and my Adoption. This Solemnity, this Anniversary of the Birth of my Beloved Lord… It’s… incredible, and I don’t know how to feel other than just blown away at the immensity of it all.’
I remember as we were doing the Our Father for the Third Glorious Mystery, the Descent of the Holy Spirit (and she included the Third Joyful Mystery, the Nativity of Our Lord) ... right around then, across the room on the opposite side, someone started playing ‘Silent Night’ on the flute, and I broke. I was chiming in on the Our Father prayer, and I barely could get the words out. Each Hail Mary, the tears just flowed more and more. I barely could pray out loud, and I admit, without flinching, when it was my turn to lead a Mystery, I almost balked halfway through because I could. Not. Stop. Crying. During that Mystery, too, at one point someone had flipped on the lights to the Christmas trees and Manger display up in the Sanctuary, and I remember as we were praying, I thought, ‘That’s my Beloved’s Face lighting up because we’re here, we’re with Him, in His House, praying and spending time with Him on His Birthday. He must be so happy to see us here...’
Please, Reader, do not misunderstand me. I was not crying tears of sorrow or mourning. But, when we were doing the Rosary Christmas morning… I promise you that not a tear shed was one of sorrow. They were all an overwhelming sense of gratitude, joy, and I could not stop thanking my Beloved for what He did when He came down to be with us, to come collect us to bring us, through His Cross, back to the Father, where we belong.
Even little ol’ me.
I remember thinking, ‘Wow. Beloved… Mama … Here we are… and in just a little while, I’ll be proceeding down the aisle to partake of Your Body, my Love… Mama, your Son brought me here. Mama, I don’t quite understand, but thank you for praying for me and helping me get this far. I love you so much, Mama. Beloved, thank You for getting me this far, and for loving me as much as You do. I don’t understand why You do, but I am so, so, so grateful, just the same. You made a way for me to be here, for us to be together in such a way that I cannot wrap my head around. I … have no other words than “thank You!” Your love amazes me right to where I have no idea how deep. You… why are You so good to me!? I didn’t do anything to deserve any of this, but… You… wow. Thank You!’
Even all through the Mass. Music, prayers, all of it. I tell you, with the exception of a few seconds of shifting my gaze, my eyes did NOT move from that Tabernacle whilst we were praying. When the Mass was happening, my eyes did NOT move from that Tabernacle unless I was looking over at Fr Coleman when it came time to address him, ‘And with your spirit.’ Normally, I would look at the Divine Mercy painting to the front-left (I mean… that painting just… draws you in, you know?). But Christmas morning, I don’t know why, I couldn’t stop staring at the Tabernacle. I don’t know what I expected to happen. I’ve been Catholic for eight months now, and this certainly isn’t my first Mass, nor is it my first Catholic Christmas celebration (just happens to be my first Christmas as a Catholic) so you’d think I’d ‘get it,’ and I do, but something just kept me fixated on that spot all morning.
Something that came to me, too, when we were spending time with our Beloved Lord Christmas morning during the Mass (and even before, when my friend and I were praying the Rosary together), is this feeling of … the word ‘worth’ comes to mind. Now, I’ve been pretty open about my childhood. I’ve mentioned in passing more than once what my brother and I went through as kids. I have also mentioned that I've never really felt like I belonged anywhere. I’ve never felt any worth, either.
It’s really something when you get to a place in your life that you just stop and look around. I don’t mean just glance from side to side like you’re trying to cross the road and not become a street pizza. I mean, really stop, really take a look around you. Really take it all in.
Christmas morning was such a moment for me. Sure, I have toyed with the idea a number of times, but when I’d start to do it, something would make me hesitate and I’d chicken out and not follow through. That morning, though, I made myself do it. I made myself take a good, long, hard look at all my whole life up to that moment, kneeling before my Beloved and talking to Him and thanking Him for all He has done and has allowed for my sanctification. Thanking Him for each person that’s crossed my path – good, bad, or indifferent – and really allowing myself to sit and steep in that moment.
Let me tell you, you should do that every now and again. Allow those spiritual tea bags to steep in your soul for awhile. It won’t hurt you. If anything, you will get more out of your conversation with Him than you ever did before that moment, and the only direction you can go from there is deeper still. Not unlike dunking the tea bags in a few times and really trying to get as much as you can from it, really letting it get everywhere it needs to be.
For some time now, God has come up often, how good He has been to me in my life, but Christmas morning… It really hit me full-on: He HAS been good to me. He has brought me up to, through, and out of some hairy things and I’ve been all the stronger on the other side of each of those things. All because He has been there with me, never letting me go, no matter how hard I fought to get Him to loosen His grip because I – at the time – felt I didn’t want (or need) it.
We talk about all the time how God’s love is never-ending, that it’s vast, it’s all-encompassing. We talk about how His Mercy is infinite. We talk about these things, but do we really stop to think about what those statements actually mean?! I know, for myself, no. I have not considered it, not really.
Before I met my friend/mentor, and even not long after we’d met, but before we’d really started getting to know each other and I was finally willing to come out of my shell enough to ask him all of my questions (and he can tell you, I’ve come up with some doozies…)… I don’t want to say that I was the most receptive person when it came to God, but at the same time, I wasn’t exactly always running away from the Church, either. Here my Beloved Jesus was, this whole time, straining to get my attention, and I’d just kind of tinker with Him here and there, but always held back.
Reader, He isn’t difficult to get to know. He isn’t going to brow-beat you for not spending time with Him. Re-read (carefully) the Prodigal Son story. Oh, the irony of admitting this aloud to you: that’s always been my favourite story. It didn’t hit me until just about a month or so ago: the whole point of that story was Jesus simply saying, ‘Look. I don’t care what you did before. I just want you to come back, sit down and talk it out with Me, I’m not going to yell at you. I love you, and I just want you to come back. That’s all. I love you, and I want you Home. Where you are safe. Where you belong.’
We have a tendency to be afraid of Him. I know, for me personally, I harboured a crippling fear of Him for a long, long time, but I still kept coming back and trying to chip away at Who He is so I could try to get to know Him, figuring if I could get a little more veneer as it were chipped off, maybe I could find out what made Him tick so I could avoid all the ‘hot buttons’ so I wouldn’t make Him mad at me and we’d have a great time together.
It has taken a few years, a lot of conversations, a lot of arguing (not to mention the crying jags), a lot of really wrestling it out, for me to come to terms with even the little bit I have thus far. And I’m not even done yet. Even the most learned scholars… they haven’t figured it all out yet (and if they say they have, they are LYING).
A few Reflections ago, I mentioned about a young man I’d known for a long time had reached out to me and asked me to pray for him. I remember during the course of his journey (literal journey, he was traveling to a new place to start his life with his little family), we were talking about his situation. He was frustrated – understandably – about some of the things that were going on, and I had to Mom Tone him a little. I won’t lie, it hurt to have to do that, but it needed to be done. I told him, ‘If God is trying to take something out of your hands, baby, LET HIM. He says in His Word – and I invite you to read that carefully when you get your bag from the undercarriage of the bus – that HE ISN’T GOING TO GIVE US MORE THAN WE CAN HANDLE, so if we’re already carrying stuff, then He’s not going to add to it. That’s why He takes things, so He can give us better than what we had. Don’t you WANT that?! You say you do, so LET HIM DO WHAT HE’S TRYING TO DO, MAN, LET HIM TAKE THOSE THINGS YOU’RE TIGHTLY GRIPPING SO HE CAN GIVE YOU THE BETTER THING HE HAS FOR YOU.’ I know I’m guilty of doing the very thing I was having a go at him about, but I’ve been working hard on trying to stop doing that.
Trying to remember that my Beloved has only my best interests in mind, because He knows what’s up. He’s got it all worked out, and I just need to stop fighting Him. But, I have a confession for you – try to contain your shock when you read this, but… I’m… stubborn. There, I said it. I’m stubborn, y’all. Sometimes I joke that I’m one of God’s ‘problem children,’ but I’m only a smidgen being funny on that. I know that HE doesn’t see me as such, but I know how hard-headed I am. My friend/mentor can tell you, I hate it when I bring up a question and I’m waiting for this deep, eloquent explanation (which to be fair, it does happen), and… the only thing that I get in response is, ‘...Because!’ UH. WUT!? No. No! What kind of answer is ‘Because!’ NO! That’s… a lazy answer. But… no it isn’t. Sometimes, ‘Because’ is all there is, because sometimes ‘Because’ is all we’re going to get from God.
I like to know things.
If I’m going to ask a question that I’ve been working on for some time, and all you come at me with is, ‘Because,’ yeah, it’s going to be really hard to just accept that. But, I need to, because I need to stop and remember that beautiful verse in Jeremiah where He says His thoughts aren’t ours, His ways aren’t ours. In other words, ‘Because I said so, kid,’ is the answer I’m going to have to accept. And it’s difficult to the point where I want to rip my own hair out when I hear it, but I’m gently reminded in response, after I splutter and flail about with, ‘What kind of an answer is that?!’ my friend/mentor will tell me, ‘What are you going to do when you ask God, and He tells you, “Because!” What then? Are you going to have this response with Him, too?’
Uh… Well, since you put it THAT way… maaaaaaannnnnn…. Kinda got me backed into a corner on that one.
Christmas morning, every single ‘Because!’ came to me. ‘Beloved, I am so sorry I wasted all that time resisting You! Why didn’t you give up on me?!’
‘Beloved, You … are so … wow. Why…?’
Each time a ‘Because!’ was given back to me in response that morning, I swear I could hear the laughter in His voice.
Christmas 2019, for me, became the Reason of Because. Because He wanted me to be with Him. Because He wanted to make it abundantly clear to me that I’m loved by Someone Who sees me as more valuable and lovable than I see myself. Because He made me, like He made each and every one of His other children before me and ever will be till the end of time, a work of art. Unique. Interesting. Funny. Witty. Clever. Smart. Beautiful. Worthwhile. Wanted. LOVED.
Christmas is all of the Because and more, forever.
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