I think 7 days before Christmas is not that late.
I haven't sent Christmas cards in something like six years. I could be off, but I don't think so...
I have been pondering a lot lately how it is that we let things we love to do or be or wear get shoved in a corner, or a closet, or we simply silence a part of who we are....
How is that?
We all do it. We all do it All. The. Time.
I wore a poncho yesterday to work that I swear had not been on my body in every bit of four years, but maybe more. It isn't anything special. It has a hole in it, is matted in a couple of places, and I think I bought it off Ebay a decade or more ago, but I love it. I love everything about it from the colors to how it makes me feel. Joy. Yup. It definitely passes the joy test. ;)
So if all of that is true...why not wear it...like every single day?!
I tie objects to emotions. I tie emotions to memories. I tie memories to people and places. I tie people and places back again to the last emotion I had with them (people) or there (places). So a simple poncho that I once loved reminds me of people and places that hurt me so I keep that poncho in the back of a small closet collecting dust.
Around September of this year, I felt God doing something crazy inside my heart. I call them touchstone moments. I am not saying he hasn't always done this with me, but the frequency and poignancy has certainly intensified since September. If you haven't read past posts where I have written about them, a touchstone moment for me is where God takes me to a place, or puts an object in front of me, I hear an old song, or someone enters my life....and dozens of other ways....God takes me to the old pain and provides healing to my heart and creates a new memory with it/them. It happened so much in Atlanta at Catalyst in October, I almost didn't leave...my friend Sherri thought I was losing it. ;)
Once I started writing about them and sharing them (thank you Sherri and Sis), I was able to see clearly what was happening...I also soon realized that the deeper into the purge, and closer to the end of it, I got, the more they were happening and the tougher they were getting to get through. A couple have paralyzed me emotionally for nearly a week; I simply couldn't work through them without some time to process. I have also gotten close to cancelling the purge altogether; the pain too much to bear. Here I am though...two weeks from the end, and I am more determined than ever to finish; not just finish, but finish strong.
Thursday night, the company I co-founded three years ago had its first ever Christmas party. Hard as it is to believe, I was worried about everything going perfectly; I was genuinely nervous. It went off beautifully, no doubt due to so many praying for it...and praying for my poor heart. I have a tribe and a Sis that know me well....and I know they were all praying me through it. God did something crazy though...he reminded me of not why I am doing what I am doing, but why He has me doing what I am doing...
Before I knew it, it was the next morning, and I was running late to work and looked in my closet and for some reasons laid eyes on that poncho...before even thinking twice, I grabbed it and put it on. I looked in the mirror and grinned like a six year old on Christmas morning. Huh?!?!!?! I even took a quick selfie before I headed out the door.
Now what does a Christmas party and an old poncho have in common?!?!?!
Well...it took me until a little while ago to figure it out.
I haven't watched the movie Christmas Card since December 2011, but I couldn't shake it as I sat writing out Christmas cards this morning. I remembered how much I loved it and why, and I said I just don't need that film anymore...too many memories. Finally, I could feel God pestering me to play it (Direct TV connection issues, etc. God is relentless). I pushed play and watched it as I finished up my Christmas cards, and I didn't cry....I did however love it. I also remembered why I really love that movie, and it is because I love the time and effort the young woman put into writing out the Christmas cards, and I always dream of being a person who takes that kind of time each year...
So....here I am eight hours later with a stack of Christmas cards, and my heart is full...of gratitude and joy.
We are never, ever going to get to the bottom of something painful or uncomfortable unless we are willing to do the work to figure out what is causing it...have the tough conversations, unpack the box in the corner, read the box of old cards, watch the movie, read the book, put on the poncho, or host the Christmas party. We are never going to get the answers we seek or heal the wound or let go of the past until we embrace the uncomfortable, the pain, the unspoken.
I feel like Pig Pen in Peanuts. Wherever I go, I am stirring up dirt, but at least I am moving forward. At least I am trying. At least I am not letting the pain paralyze me.
When I was at Captivating in Colorado back in 2012, God spoke to me, and I wrote down every single word he said in my journal. I have shared those words with only a handful of people since then because they are sacred and beautiful to my heart. I see now that God was making me promises, but just like Sarah, I couldn't imagine that what God was saying could really come to pass. I had doubts. Also, to pick up what he was promising me, I was going to have to let go of two fistfuls of stuff that no longer belonged to me. It has taken me every single bit of these three years since to unclench my fists and slowly let go of all I held onto so tightly for oh so long....
....yes, some of those things are possessions, but even more they are thoughts, lies, shackles, people, ideals, beliefs, shame, and old scabbed over wounds. Oh and those wounds...some of those have been the hardest of all to let go of...because then you have nothing left to hide behind...talk about vulnerability. Allowing yourself to heal is the most vulnerable I have ever been. *Deep Breath*
I am SO grateful.
I sit here today with a stack of cards written to people who have loved me through the toughest 3-4 years of my life. They have believed in me. They have challenged me. They have inspired me. They have given of themselves to me. They have given me a place to sit a spell. They have pointed me to God. They have been present in my life (no easy task with me always moving so fast). They have hugged me when I couldn't form the words to express my need for one. They have shown up with food when they sensed I hadn't eaten well that day. They have sent me articles and books. They have taken me out for a glass of wine or a good meal. They have crisscrossed the U.S. and Haiti to hear and learn and be pushed with me. They have prayed for me and over me. They have moved me. They have unpacked me. They have decorated my home(s). They have helped me give away my treasures to help another. They have donated to causes that moved my heart. They have spoken truth into me and over me when the lies were drowning me. They have picked me up and dusted me off. They have stood between me and other's lies. They have stood next to me when others abandoned me. They have stood behind me and pushed when I was frozen in fear. They have loved me for all the right reasons and for no reason. They have let me love them. They have let me lean on them. They have let me grieve with them and for them. We have grieved together. They have let me know them as I was learning how to be known. They have held me when there were no words. They have laughed with me and at me. They have been encouragers in a world of naysayers. They have rebuked the enemy and called up the Lord, sometimes in the same breath. They are warriors and friends. They are family and peers. They are my tribe. They are my heart.
I have lost so much this past four years. More than even I thought possible back then. There were days and nights I didn't think I would survive the pain and loss, and even more days that I didn't believe I deserved to even if I could..........that is hard to write.
God asked me in 2012 if after a lifetime of believing in him, but not believing HIM, if I was ready to do it his way instead of mine...and after nearly a year of wrestling, I said yes. I was tired of being a half-hearted Christian and trying to control every single aspect of my life; I had NO idea those two were inter-connected (that would take a lot longer to learn). I was miserable. I had everything and nothing. I was clueless.
God is faithful.
God gives me touchstones to remind me that he can re-graft not simply my heart, but my memories. He can create love and joy where there was once only pain. He continues to do it over and over again. In the eyes of a young man who looks to you to mother him. In the multi-colored threads of a poncho. In a song from your childhood. In a container of body powder. In a map on a wall. In the words of a Christmas card and the film that inspires the love of them in your heart. In a text message from an old friend.
In this season of Advent, let it be known that God sent his son to capture my heart...
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland...I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise." - Isaiah 43: 18-21
...and he did. ❤️☀️
***As soon as I finished typing this and hit post, I saw a text from one of my C7 where they sent me this video not knowing if I had ever seen it...Beautiful Things. God absolutely can and does make "beautiful things out of dust" and let my life be a testament to that...thank you Judy for letting God use you to remind me. I love you my friend. :)
Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)