As I write this, it’s Boxing Day. The day after Christmas. The day we all wake up from our Christmas Coma’s and are forced back into reality. My tree and decorations have already been taken down and packed away for another year. I know some people leave their’s up until New Years but I prefer a quick and painless clean up job. I’m the kind of person that gets really excited leading up to all things Christmas, but then once it’s over, I’m done! My tree takes up a lot of space so I’m always excited to have my living room back to normal. It’s also my way of clearing out the clutter of the previous year and looking ahead to a brand new one.
As previously discussed, this year was not my best year. It was definitely one of my most challenging ones, on many levels. 2017 started off with a bang (literally, I was in a car accident) and it ended with one too; my children moving out and living full time with their father. Not exactly a great start OR a great finish to 2017. If 2017 was a guy, we’d have broken up a long time ago. As far as I’m concerned, 2017 can go away now. We’re officially over. We’re so over, we need a new word for over.
I honestly thought that this was going to be the worst Christmas is the history of Christmases. That it wouldn’t even feel like Christmas. I didn’t have a giant budget for gifts this year so I already felt bad about that. And because of my children leaving, I didn’t feel loved or appreciated. I felt abandoned. And, to be brutally honest, I felt like a giant loser. Here I was, 35 years old, and nothing to show for it. No man, no kids, no money, no career. My life has gone so far off track to what I thought it would be at this stage growing up. Nothing has happened the way I thought it would. The vision I once had for my life was non existent. The only thing I could do was cry and talk to God (pray).
During such a low point in my life lately however, I saw God come through with the specific purpose of reminding me that He is still here with me. That he sees, he loves, he cares, he listens and he provides. I was blessed this Christmas, beyond what I ever expected. I actually felt spoiled (in a good way) by God. In ways that I didn’t see coming, from people all around me in my life. For the first time in a long time I felt seen, heard, loved, cherished and provided for. I felt hope for the new year ahead. People coming together, rallying around one of their own. Real community.
I had been a witness to this type of thing in my life before, but not for myself. For others. Growing up, my parents were very involved with outreach and ministering/helping people that they met on the street or just down on their luck. There were a number of times that they would bring people home and my mom would cook for them and some even spent the night. There were even a time or two where I had to sleep with my sister because I had to give up my own bed so that some stranger could get a good nights sleep. I remember when I was in high school, my parents brought a young lady home that was pregnant…and a junkie. Not only did she get my bed and my room for a couple months, but she also got some of my clothes. You can imagine the absolute “horror” that this would have over a teenage girl like myself at the time. Quite a few years after this I had learned that she had been stabbed to death in a local park. Most likely over drugs. She just couldn’t seem to get free.
Another that came home to us was a lady who was HIV positive, and who also struggled with drug addictions. She only stayed a couple weeks. We fed her and sheltered her and loved her. But she eventually left and still to this day I see her around the city, sometimes standing on the street corner, begging for spare change. She looks rough. When I see her I often wonder what she thinks about when she wakes up in the morning. What she wanted her life to be. And at what point did she start heading in this direction?
My parents helped a lot of people over the years in different situations. One thing I have learned is that you can only help those who want help. But regardless of how they turn out or the decisions they make, we are still required to give. That same sense of community that I felt over this holiday season, is the same that we are all to give to others throughout the year. A coming together and sharing in each others pain. Lightening even the smallest burdens, however we are able to do that. Whether that is financial, emotional, spiritual…sometimes it’s just a listening ear. Or sometimes, it could even mean giving someone their space for them to grieve. Just knowing that your a phone call away when the grieving stage passes when they decide to “re-join” society again is enough.
Maybe it’s because of how I grew up and what I’ve seen, or maybe it’s because of my own struggles through the years, but I have a soft spot for people that I see who are “down on their luck” or struggling. Every time I pass someone without a home on the street or someone begging for food, my heart hurts. Every time I see another single mother cry under the weight of her heavy burdens, I get upset. In a country so blessed and rich, and especially speaking from a Christian point of view, I believe we are required, even commanded to do something. I have felt challenged in this area myself. I believe the reason for that is because when we experience generosity, it changes us and then we too, in turn, desire to be generous to others.
I have both witnessed and personally experienced other peoples generosity. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today, regardless of the hardships, without God using people’s undeserved generosity towards me. And it has always come at the right moment when I needed it most. Just as God has used other people to answer some of my prayers, we also, are the answer to someone else’s prayer.
If you ever feel your heart hurting for someone, that’s God prompting you to be their answered prayer. Even if it seems small or insignificant to you, it could mean the world to them. We are His hands and His feet. Being in community, a family and unified, carrying each others burdens. This world is crying out for our insane generosity.
P.s.…Oh, and if you’re wondering where all of this snow came from, I also asked God for a really “White Christmas” , just to make it a little more authentic, and it looks like He was insanely generous with that one too. You’re welcome! 😉