Last night I was reminded of the first Christmas Peter and I had after we were married. We got so excited about the gifts we had bought for one another that we opened them early. Not a day or so early. Like two or three weeks early. I think Peter even made a little scavenger hunt for me to find my gift. And if I remember correctly, we budgeted $20 to spend on each other. Such a sweet memory.
Of course I– like so many of you– are up to my ears in gifts. I have all of the teacher gifts lined up on the counter, waiting for gift tags to be put on them. The kids are begging me every night to wrap up their gifts for family and friends (I have to work myself up to the patience level. I’m not there yet.) The guest room bed is piled in all sorts of goodness (I even have a small pile of things I bought for myself. I wonder, should I wrap them? It’s a whisk and a measuring cup, so don’t worry that I’m going overboard.).
One of the words I’ve been mulling over this past year has, in fact, been Gifts.
After Annie died, I would have horrible thoughts go through my head. I would begin to think that maybe I was going to fail her horribly as a Mama, so God had taken her from me. I would beat myself up thinking of all the ways I was robbing my kids’ childhood by working through this grief in front of them. Was I being punished? Was there some sin that caused her death? Over and over thoughts would tumble through my brain, leaving me worn down and exhausted.
About 18 months ago, Peter and I attended a Respite Retreat and one night after he fell asleep, I woke up and started writing in a flurry. Because it hit me:
God gives good gifts to His children.
And, I wondered, could Annie’s death ever be redeemed enough so that I would be able to see it as a gift? Would I open up my heart and my hands to allow Christ to not only heal my hurt, but also to use it?