Monday, December 7, 2009

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

My church, TerraNova, is doing a new series called “Ghosts of Christmas Past”. It’s not the same as the movie necessarily, but it is about things that have happened in the past that make the holiday season not such a good thing for some people. And it’s about asking God for forgiveness and healing of those things from our pasts so that the future can be a bright, light place. Where we can walk with Him in the light. One of Scott’s favorite verses was read by our church – Eph. 5:8-14. I didn’t know it was a favorite till I looked at my husband’s bible shortly after he passed away. It was post noted in pink with “especially 13” written in his handwriting. I don’t think our Pastor knew that this was one of Scott’s favorite. It matters not.
Sometimes I’m hit with the emotions of Scott’s death when I least expect it. Yesterday at church was one of those moments. Usually when I first walk in I’m blindsided. I’ve learned to expect this trigger. Scott’s presence is very heavy there. The place was our home away from home. It was our place of refuge during the storms of life. It’s where we practiced choir. It’s where they met to head out for Project Mexico. It’s where our life was. I’m reminded of how much he put into that place. He was very involved in capturing the build-out in photographs, he went and sprayed for bugs so that Laura wouldn’t be afraid to be there. He worked along side Stefanie to clean it up. I don’t even know how many times he swept that warehouse floor. He watched it come from a hollowed out warehouse space and helped to create it into the warm and loving place of worship it has become.
When I look at the lights I remember how he LOVED being a part of that, same thing with the sound system. So now when I walk in, I try not to look at those things. I just focus on my new life and the message being presented. But yesterday, I was blindsided again. In the Children’s Ministry workroom is the “bio” that Scott and I did when we did his Art Showing. Talk about the wind being kicked out of you! But it was OKAY! I’m glad that he’s still remembered.

Anyway, back to the message from church, I’ve pretty much covered most of the issues of my distant past – my totally dysfunctional childhood (yeah, I know – who didn’t have one of those), God has redeemed my children back to me (which I am forever grateful for), I believe strongly that He has forgiven me for those things that I’ve done and that He’s forgiven who people have done awful things to me.
I’ve been a Christ follower for 12 years now, so I have dealt with, been forgiven of and have moved past a lot of things from my past, so I didn’t think the lesson really applied to me, however, I’ve changed that view point. Since the series goes along with a couple of other studies I’m doing, and I have to do spiritual inventory for those studies I decided to think about and pray about the “Regrets” and “Resentments” that I do have buried.

And it comes down to in part to this – I’m not a strong believer in the Christmas season. Not because I don’t believe in Christ, but because I don’t like celebrating the way modern society has come to celebrate His birth. It’s become such a money pit that we all fall into and then regret when we end up paying back so much more. And teaching our young ones the wrong meaning of the season!
We’re too busy focusing on the “holiday” and not the meaning behind it. But then this got me thinking about how it’s easy for me to not celebrate Christmas. I’m just not into holidays. And that’s because I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and so that “holiday spirit” was never engrained into my head. So it’s a little easier for me to make a stand to not get all caught up in the shopping and decorating and cooking and so on and so on. So, no regrets there.

And Scott and I decided about 3 years ago that we weren’t going to get a tree, or buy presents for anyone. It was hard, but it was okay. I like buying stuff for people, that was the hardest part. So we bought a little fake tree that takes 15 minutes to set up and put away. And now that Scott has passed away, I’m going to compromise this a little bit.

I won’t put up our little 15” tree this year, or any other decorations. Mostly because they’re packed in storage, but also, my little space doesn’t allow it. This allows me the freedom to think about getting or making Christ-centered gifts for my children and grand children. I’m not going to spend a lot of money doing it. I WILL STAY IN BUDGET. It may just come down to sharing the story of Christ with them in a unique way. I haven’t decided yet, but this I know, I will celebrate Christ’s birth the best way I can and that is keeping Him in the center of it.

Then this leads me to discuss the “Regrets” and “Resentments” I do have toward other people and myself (and surprisingly, God too) that I’ve just not thought about in a long time. Or am just coming to realize. And though it may be true that I’ve dealt with many, many issues from my past, yet there are still some recent areas in my life where there are “Regrets” and “Resentment’s. And so I’ve prayed that God would show me these areas. And I have questions, questions that I’ve posed to God that I’m currently waiting answers on. One of the answers has already been given.

See, last night as I was sitting outside in the cold pondering the spiritual inventory I have to take, my question was why can’t I just get over the death of my husband? It’s been almost 7 months now and I feel like I should be farther along than I am in the grief process. This is a process I hate right now. I cannot rush it along, I cannot push it, and there is no reward or prize if you finish first. And honestly, I don’t want to “finish first” on this one, but I do want to have some kind of “normal” in my life and I would hate to think that where I am right now is “normal”. And the response I heard was clearly, “Some things just take more time”. And, “This “normal” is only normal for a season”. Then I looked at my ring that I bought about a month ago. It reads, “I know the plans I have for you”. Jeremiah 29:11- 13
Here’s what the full verse says, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”.
Oh WOW! This is so reassuring to me.

My faith remains, it weakens and it gets stronger, day after day, but I haven’t completely lost faith. Everyday my faith looks different to me. Some days it’s HUGE and other days it’s truly a mustard seed.

And this is where my “Regrets” and “Resentments” are right now. And I’m sorry that it’s still all about Scott for me, and it might be that way for a long time.
I Regret that Scott isn’t here with me right now and I Resent that God has chosen to take him from me right now.
Scott lived his whole life hard and fast and crammed it all into 53 years. I had no control over that. And I had very little control over anything in our relationship. Yet, I suffer the consequences of Scott’s choices. I have resentment about this. I resent that I’m always reminded of him and that he’s not here and I resent that I’m sad all the time. There! I've said it.

Life just doesn’t seem very fair to me. But life isn’t “fair”. Or just. It just is. “It is what it is” and I’m learning to just “be” in each moment. Take each moment as it comes and not control, analyze it I may or may not remember much of this time right now, but I am learning through it. I am growing through it and I know that this too shall pass.

I’m confident that “normal” will happen for me – In God’s time, not mine. For He has always known the plan for me. I may not like the timing or the plan, but if God's in Control and last I checked He was still on the throne, then I'm OKAY with it.