All I Ever Wanted

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Do you remember what Christmas was like as a child?
When I was about six or seven, I made this calendar out of of “computer paper”, and every day I would cross off each date with a purple marker. About the same time, I would start preparing for the appearance of Rudolph–or the first day when I would run around on all fours with my nose painted red and headband antlers on my head. After that, my brothers and I would rehearse our nativity performance, and also plan “the wake-up call.” One year it was composed of a Rescue Hero fire truck, another year it was a hailstorm of stuffed animals, and another year it was military costumes and a bombing soundtrack. However, every year there was a plan and the goal was to wake the parents as early and miserably as possible.
Those were the days! Now that I’m older, I substitute coffee for that youthful energy. 😉 And more importantly than seeing what I got on Christmas morning is the joy of being with family and remembering what the season is about.
Nonetheless, God–who has already given me enough by sending His Son into the world–decided to give me another gift. And it was beautiful, amazing…what I have been dreaming of for months…all I ever wanted.
What was it, you ask?
Well, to answer that, I have to remind you that my “hardest thing” is watching loved ones be in pain and not being able to help them. This year, I have not only seen grief caused by the hardness of life, but also by my own selfishness and sin. This year, I have seen all the people I love most break down into tears…
So if that is my “hardest thing”, it follows that my greatest gift would be seeing joy restored in the hearts of those I hurt. It would be seeing smiles where before there was sobbing–wholeness where there was brokenness.
And by God’s grace, I saw it.
In December, I saw pain turn to happiness.
I saw my mom go through a major surgery and start crawling back to health…I saw her shed tears of joy while opening her presents this morning…
My best friend, who was broken by my secrets, sat with me in Starbucks the other day…we talked about how so many sad and hurtful things have happened. But then we talked about the good things, and the hope of tomorrow…and he smiled…
My friends, who have felt the hardness of life this year…..hurt by other people, lonely, searching for a second chance, betrayed, and lost….I saw them laugh again…
My brother…who is so strong but was devastated when I almost left…he is happy again…
Those who held me when I was most vulnerable, who sobbed into my shoulder and begged me not to go…who cried on a cold pavement in the dark…I got to see those eyes light up with joy…I got to see that smile again…and it warmed my heart more than I could explain…
And finally, I got to talk to my former manager and the owner of the store where I used to work. It had been about six months since I set foot in that restaurant, but on Tuesday, I decided to go in. I was shaking, sweaty, nervous, cold. For five minutes, I sat in my car and talked myself into going inside. “It’s okay, don’t be afraid. C’mon, do it.” And I did, half-expecting only a silence that told me I no longer belonged…cold stares directed at my scarlet letter. But you know what? All I received was love and forgiveness. My manager saw me through the window and beamed, and I spent the next half hour talking to her and to the owner. We talked about me, what I’ve been up to, about them, how business has been, and then I said what I’ve needed to say, “I’m so sorry for everything….”
And they hugged me. They smiled. They told me it was okay. They told me I was forgiven. They told me they missed me. We all laughed.
It’s funny how all of my family’s happiness, my boss’s excitement, my friend’s smiles….they are what healed me. They are what made me whole, what gave me strength and courage, what gave me unspeakable joy. The reunion. The restoration. The redemption.
And because of all of those things, my heart, which has been like this </3 all year, suddenly felt whole again <3.
That is what I received for Christmas.
And it is all I ever wanted.

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