The morning rushes from the start. Light, cold and sterling, glowing fresh, bleeds through the curtains. We swing our legs toward the chill, gathering hope, tucking promises deep.
In the first moments of waking, we dress for battle. The sword flashes, Powerful Word cutting away and shaping new, and we whisper prayers, and we get out of bed freshly carved. Every day I need this, the time to breathe Spirit, the time to be all intimately wrapped in God, the time to remember how to see.
I stand in the kitchen, beating eggs with a fork, and Zoe stands on a chair in front of the microwave pushing buttons, and I tell Him again, “I need everything you’ll give me, every bit.” Breakfast–hot, forks clinking against plates; blood sugars tested; carbs recorded; insulin delivered; pills swallowed; lunches packed; showers; hair fixed—”two pony tails, curled, please Mom;’ teeth brushed, singing; beds made, neat; chores accomplished; the details stack tall, and I call, “Ready?” I herd the last two children out the door, reminding them to carry diabetic supplies, hoisting book bags. Zoe hurries back in to brush her teeth—she forgot, and Adam I sit in the car waiting, and still I don’t see that he forgot his jacket.
Yesterday it almost felt like Spring outside, except that the thick clouds lay like a blanket over the skies, reminding us that this warmth only betrays the dying season. And today the chill has returned, sharp and tingling on our cheeks, and Adam leaves home in short sleeves, without a jacket.
In carpool, one of the teachers notices at the same moment I do, and she says, “No jacket?” Then she turns the question to me. ”No jacket?”
I shrug, feeling weary. ”I guess not.”
She looks over at the other teachers opening car doors and says, “No jacket.” Then to me, “Well, okay then.”
I drive away feeling as though nothing I’ve done up till then matters much, as though all my mothering has been summarized in a few short, sighing seconds. No jacket. Every day I have to ask again how to see, because the physical details lie.
Back home, I race upstairs, keys in hand. I grab Adam’s jacket from the closet and rush back out the door, driving back to school. When I park, I see Adam’s teacher talking to a dear friend of mine just a few spaces away, so I just walk to them and pass off the jacket. And that’s when I notice the tears in my friend’s eyes, the shine of light just there, the thin, red line of pain.
“What’s wrong?” I ask her, going over to wrap my arms around her shoulders, to gather her in.
She tells me of her struggling, of the pain buried deep. I hug her tighter while she cries, telling her it will one day be better. ”You can’t see it now, I know you can’t. It feels like it will never be better. But it will be. One day, you’ll be able to help someone going through this because you know. You will. God will heal this.” I know it doesn’t dull the pain, this telling her of the new that will be born, but love makes me want to speak the truth over her sharp, rolling, tearing hurt.
Eventually, God redeems everything. It’s His way. Every marred pot becomes a masterpiece, the cracks all shining glory.
I stand with my friend, speaking hope, thinking, “No jacket, and this is what God does,” and she looks at me and says, “I’m so glad you had to bring that jacket back to school.”
“Me too,” I tell her, meaning it, smiling at the way God shows me the important in the midst of the urgent, the way He points to the lasting instead of the temporary.
Sometimes Christmas hurts. And maybe you feel bruised this year too?
One thing—a word, a voice, maybe a memory, and the season wrapped in magic and lights and the glinting glory of promises shatters, the shards slicing deep. Or the heavy weary steals the shine of joy, and the not enough covers the day in shadow. Sometimes I feel as though the pain of living desecrates the celebration of King coming.
But then I think of Mary, pregnant round and back aching, bumping along for hours and days on donkey’s back, sleeping on the ground with her head against cold, hard stone. I think of her wrestling with sleep, as nearly all mothers do those last nights, when nothing feels comfortable. Surely Mary felt the same heavy weary, mother not yet birthed, already overwhelmed with the have to, traveling when she would have least wanted to step away from home.
Pain preceded His birth. Pain always precedes His coming–sharp, deep, forcing the cries from our mouths. We mothers know. Birth pain feels like the body ripping apart. But our hurting brings Him hew born, it is the reason He comes. And the promise remains: Into our darkness, His is the light that comes.
…the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned (Matthew 4:16).
I wonder if Mary cried, or screamed, or swallowed her pain, gasping? In the birthing, she expected the waves of hurt. She breathed the dank, sweet smell of hay, heard the snort of animals and didn’t care, lost herself in the process of bearing new life.
From every dark, breathless, bearing moment, God births new creation. In His time, He washes all hurt away cloaked in blood. Our pain, the hard living, it’s as much the magic of the season as the eager anticipation of this joy, of relief, of wishes granted and promises fulfilled. The miracle gleams in the healing of our dark need, in the impossible wrapped up in the hope of redemption. Instead of banishing my weary, instead of wanting it well hidden, I’m coming to look upon it expectantly, with eyes watching for redemption, for the Lord newly born.
This pain we bear, it’s the ache of labor.
And no matter how loud my cry, I will yet hold glory in my arms.
When life hurts, we must open our fists to cradle the redemption of all things. The King comes quickly, and behold, He makes all things new.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently (Romans 8:22-25).