As a single mom, I will be the first to admit that this time of year can be a little painful at times to log onto my Facebook account and see all of the beautiful annual family photos, the cute babies in their first Christmas outfits, the fathers doting over their children, the mother cradling her newborn, the families taking amazing vacations together, the announcements of engagements, the expensive gifts given and received, the over the top weddings, I can go on and on. All of it can leave one feeling as though there is something lacking in your own life.
But then my mind goes to those who are going through or who have gone through major setbacks, obstacles and/or tragedies yet remain strong and have persevered. I think of a patient I use to take care of in home health who has passed away and his wife is now a volunteer for hospice, caring for others who are in their last days of life. Or the story I heard yesterday of a young child who battled cancer for 4 years and who went on to develop a charitable organization because he wanted to give back to other children going through cancer so they would not have to face it alone. I look at my own life. Despite having gone through some pretty debilitating blows and emotional hurts, God has healed emotional wounds that otherwise would’ve crippled me for life. He has given me everything I ever needed and then some. No my life may not be what I planned when I was younger, or even what other people think it should be, but it is better then what I could have done on my own. I feel very blessed at this stage in my life. I am happily single, thankful not to have a lot of drama, in fact almost zero drama from my child’s father (which a few years ago would’ve been unheard of). I have a beautiful daughter who excels in school and music and is sensitive to the things of God. I have a a wonderful set of supportive parents who are very involved in the day to day life of my daughter and I. I attend a phenomenal loving church where the spirit of God is at full work each service. All of my needs are met. I do not go to bed hungry, I am not lacking for clothes to wear and I am healthy.
Isn’t that the true beauty in this season though?
Looking at someones life aside from the material aspects, and looking at how much God has done in their life. Oh yes, the beautiful family photos are nice, the trips taken to amazing places are neat to go through. But to me, the true beauty of the season is looking at peoples lives in who the Creator, our Savior, who came as a baby, has wrought His best work. As a result of His work in our lives when we were in weak moments, we are now able to give to others who may be hurting and going through what we went through 5 or 10 years ago. You can look back and see this beautiful tapestry that God is working out and revealing in His own time.
The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans chapter 5 verses 3 – 6:
“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope; And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
This scripture always makes me smile, Paul was quite the comedian. We are suppose to glory in our tribulations? Really?? After letting the scripture sink in, we realize tribulation / trials are ultimately brought in our life to give us hope, and isn’t that why He came in the first place, so we might have hope? So if our lives may not be the picture perfect family appealing to the social media world, that’s ok. Honestly, my life will probably never be one of those picture perfect families, because in reality perfect families don’t exist. All of the people behind the pictures on my Facebook feed have to live this thing we call LIFE as well. They have to face disappointment, hurts, pain, depression, sickness, loss of loved ones, etc. Looking at them through a different set of lens, there is the realization that we are all this wonderful piece of art planned by the Master designer who is continually working through us so that we may share His love and give Hope to those around us no matter what we are facing or the stage of life we are currently in.
This Holiday season as we go through the ups and downs of it all, the family get togethers, the work functions, the perhaps disappointing moments where reality did not meet expectations, the moments where floods of memories fill our mind, may we remember the experiences we are going through are not so much for us as they are for those around us and most of all for the hope that lives within us.