A few months ago I wrote a post called “Always Winter, but Never Christmas.” The best thing about winter for us in the northern hemisphere, is that all of the harsh wintery weather is just a prelude to one of the very best things…Jesus’ birthday.
That’s also how I used to feel about having babies. There’s so much labor pain…and then, like Paul said, you forget all about the pains of childbirth, because there is just so very much JOY.
But what about when there is no joy? I know that there will be moments of sorrow yet to come, and that someday I will die. But on the night I gave birth to Charlie, armed with only a heart shattered to pieces and an epidural that wasn’t working, I thought I would actually die of heartbreak.
There was nothing more painful that could have happened in that moment than what actually did…we heard the shrill cry of another little newborn in the room next to mine. They got Christmas…and we got heartbreak. Right about then, I knew I was going to die. That something so deeply breaking had just happened to me, that though I would probably keep on breathing…a part of me had truly died. And we now live daily in the mind-numbing heartache that for every one of our dreams, for every one of our lost babies…Christmas is never coming.
But this week something happened…that felt very Christmas-like.
We don’t buy our kids a lot of presents at Christmastime. They each get exactly four. Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. It works out quite nicely for everybody. The kids know exactly what to expect and are always really happy with their four special things, and mommy and daddy manage to survive December actually remembering what Christmas really means. We don’t have boxes upon boxes piled up under our Christmas tree.
But that was exactly what happened this week.
Yesterday, our lovely mail person arrived at our doorstep with package…after package…after package. When she finally put down lucky package #23 she let out a huge sigh and said, “Whew! Finally! That’s the last one for today!” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that tomorrow was probably going to be even more crazy.
And it was crazy. When you have to get rid of almost everything…you end up needing a lot of things. And I’ve never seen my kids so excited about boring things like socks, underwear, and beach towels in my life. Boring things simply weren’t boring…because they really needed those things.
But even more than all of the brown-paper-Amazon-packages-tied-up-with-string…what most ministered to my heart was the sheer beauty of the moment through all of the little things.
The note from the girl I discipled in college who sent us books that were her childhood faves.
The six boxes we got from strangers in Germany whose names I couldn’t even pronounce properly.
The note from the man I don’t even know who sent Emma a princess dress and included the words, “This ones for you…love the Lord with all your heart little girl.”
And most of all, the bewildered joy on little Fred’s face when he put on his new Captain America costume and exclaimed, “I LOVE my new costume from Sara Fisher! Wait…whose Sara Fisher anyways?”
It wasn’t Christmas because of the boxes. I know that all of these things will someday have to go…just like so many of our things went this week. It wasn’t Christmas because of their joy. My kids are pretty joyful most days, which is an absolute testament to the mercies of God after such a deeply painful last year of life.
It was Christmas…
Because it was the Body of Christ.
It was the very real and unforgettable object lesson that happened right before their tiny eyes, as they were loved on and loved on and loved on some more…by hundreds of people in the Body of Christ.
We have endured so much deep, deep pain. Painful memories that my kids will probably always carry as they journey through this life. There is nothing more harsh and winter-like than celebrating a first birthday in a cemetery in January. Winter is still, and always will be, very much a part of even our kid’s individual life stories.
But this last week we have been given some of the most incredible glimpses of Christmas that a child of God could ever get this side of eternity…and it’s all because of each and every one of you…His earthy hands and heart and feet and voice.
Thank you so much to the hundreds of hands that clicked “send” on Amazon, made us meals, helped at the garage sale, and wrote so many incredibly kind and thoughtful things.
Thank you to each and every one of you who gave so joyfully and sacrificially to our family. A week ago one of the biggest decisions looming before us was whether or not to order the best (but very costly) test to properly measure the exposure level of each person in our family. Your absolutely unfathomable generosity has made that one a very easy decision to make.
And most of all…thank you for your prayers. There are SO many people who’ve told us that they are praying for us every day. I’m not sure I actually pray for anyone every single day, and after another long and physically painful day, your prayers mean the world to me.
I still live in winter. I still live in world where babies die, and bodies ache with pain, and children have to deal with deeply complicated and painful questions way beyond their pay grade. And that will always be. But this week, through your incredible generosity, prayers and outpouring of love…my kids have also seen some of the most beautiful glimpses this side of heaven…of what heaven will be like.
A place filled with people who love each other deeply. People they’ve never even met. But people they love simply because Christ is still in Christmas. It’s not Christmas yet. Christmas will be Charlie and Jesus and my other sweet babies, for 10,000 years and then 10,000 more. But it was very Christmas-like. And a deeply significant reminder to each one of us that Christmas…is most definitely coming.
PS- here’s a few of my very faves from “Christmas night”…
Meet Snow White. Whenever you picture Sophie just picture her in this, because she plans on wearing it…every…single…day.
Freddo in his new helmet. (The mom in me is extra thankful for this one…seeing as he wants to be a stunt man someday…)
Emma and her Kit doll. Many adventures await. (Get ready Kit, it’s going to be a wild ride.)
And my personal favorite…Sophie and her Dora pillow. Reunions are just so sweet.
With love and gratitude from the Zeller family,