Fifteen years old, waking with tempered hope Christmas morning in a hotel room, I crawled out of bed and walked to the window. More snow on the ground, steam rising from the hot springs, and I felt conflicted. My parents decided this year to spend “what we would have spent” on Christmas at a resort in the mountains. The scenic views of the snow-capped mountain range aroused little in my teenage heart. My right elbow and wrist ached from too many video games, and I’d run out of money to play them.
And while I knew the gifts on the table in the hotel room awaited my attention, I easily slipped back into bed to await my parents rousing.
My stomach hurt.
I felt guilty.
Yet a little excited at the same time.
We had all agreed that there would be no gifts this year, and yet “Santa” had come anyway.
A small, brightly wrapped package rested quietly on the table in the dimly lit hotel room.
Santa came just for me, though, and because I knew the old fat guy was really my parents, and they knew I knew (for years), I felt a little cheated somehow. And guilty.
Going to bed the night before, I confirmed with them “the deal.” That we’d decided there’d be no gifts.
“No gifts,” they said.
Christmas morning brought me a pair of gold and opal earrings to match my ring, along with a pendant.
The gift I hadn’t expected arrived in the form of the uneasiness a child feels when caught red-handed in the cookie jar.
Even though I had never been a “Santa” to my parents, even though the children in our house were the only ones to receive gifts from the mythical red suited fellow, I still felt ripped off, or wrong, or something…whatever it was, I just knew I felt BAD.
I liked the earrings, but inside, something didn’t feel right.
Years later, I can look back on that Christmas, and clearly see, as you probably can, what was missing.
I felt the absence of the gift of giving.
And this year, while all my activity looks the same on the outside, I’m different on the inside. I honestly don’t care what or if anyone gives me anything for Christmas.
God gave me something very special this year…
Something deeply fulfilling…
Something that warms me from the inside out…
I took our ministry team to an Advent service last weekend, where the speaker illuminated a part of Scripture I had somehow missed. In the Christmas story itself, the birth of Jesus includes a little information about how Mary went off to see Elizabeth, who was 1) the only other person who would know (thanks to Gabriel) what was going on with her, and 2) had her own little miracle going on – and was 6 months into the growing of John the Baptist. If we ever have to wonder when life starts, we just need to check this passage! Look for yourself for the gift I’m speaking about: Luke Account of the birth. Pay particular attention to verse 39 and 40.
Do you see it?
What women ache for, what completes us, fills us, encourages us, helps us do the next thing, no matter how hard, is…relationship.
God gave the gift of relationship to Mary, who may have been concerned about a myriad of things ranging from being stoned to death, losing her fiancé, to the pregnancy itself. He also gave this same gift to a seasoned, wise woman, Elizabeth, and a helper in her last trimester (remember, she was no spring chicken here), when she still had tons to do, and was likely exhausted physically. A gift of three months of relationship, time, community, with another female. Elizabeth likely shared her wisdom over laundry and baking chores, Mary providing help and energy and excitement in her youth. Both emerged encouraged and stronger for the difficult days to come.
Thank you God.
I realized this year that ALL of my treasures come from my relationships. I’ve walked through conflicts with my best female friends. I have the privilege of serving in ministry with a number of them. They fill a place in me that can only be filled by female companionship. Women are the glue that keeps the family relationships together. We love differently than men do – our husbands cannot possibly complete us in this way. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not discounting or lessening the gift of a beautiful marriage! I’m talking about a different gift – one that’s there for all of us. And this year, I thanked God for the difficulties of the last years that tie my tight girlfriends and me together. I thank God for the tears we have shed. For the apologies made for feelings hurt and stupid things said and done. For all our lives revolving around Him so very much that we can weather any storm, as long as we have each other for support.
And I thank God for Daughters of Sarah. My best friends are women that have taken the class with me. We used to make everyone do the accountability section as a public speech, (yeah, I know, crazy, right? – it’s small group discussion now) but they did it, and I got to know them, and grew to love them.
I’m so excited for this next class – I want you to have these deeply fulfilling relationships. I want you to fully receive the gift God has for you this Christmas in Daughters of Sarah. Yes, it’s about growing your relationship with God. Yes, it’s about deepening your connection with your husband.
And while those things happen, I think one of the most important benefits is deeper relationships with your sisters in Christ. Marriage is difficult, moreso when we don’t have a support network to walk the journey with us. Please join us – I fully believe it’s His gift to you this year.
Dare you to open it.
How about right now, pick up the phone and call someone you feel led to get to know better. Invite her over to bake cookies with you for her family and yours. Or invite her to go shopping with you – we’re all busy right now, even a trip to the grocery with a friend while you push carts and talk deeply is wonderful! That may sound nuts, but one of my friends I only see if I go to Costco with her! J Come on, don’t be shy – pick up the phone and invite a friend to do something – don’t clean your house, don’t fuss and fret, let her love you where you are. J
The gift is waiting for you. Double dog dare you to open it.
Love to you,