The Christmas I was ten I was given Amy Grant’s House of Love Album on cassette tape. Not to be outdone by my new Walkman. These two things were a match made in heaven. I can picture my young bubbling self careful unwrapping each present with all eyes on me. At the Thurston house present opening was an event. We went one by one, youngest to oldest, each person opening one gift per turn. Christmas morning was something that took time. We reveled in the glory of it all. The stack of presents next to our “spot” in the living room, first unopened and then revealed one, by, one. That year each present I opened had me more excited and more grateful than the one before it. I have never been one to hold in what I think and feel very well and ten year olds aren’t experts in feeling small feelings so as a pre teen I was in a bit of a spot. Very emotional. Very passionate. Both things, very hard to hide. This Christmas morning was no different. My “thank you’s” were high pitched, loud, and extremely heartfelt. Christmas was the best present. Wrapped with a bow, opened with glitter and wonder and magic and snow.
This is how I have lived much of my life, celebrating. Because life is made to be celebrated and why not find the small joys everyday and create moments for ourselves in the midst of the mundane? Why not spontaneously party, take unexpected road trips and unplanned adventures? Why can’t life be made up of many happy moments?
My glasses are rose colored, this I know. I see the glass 3/4 of the way full and don’t apologize for it. My mind is a world of vision and possibilities. There is always a new place to go, a new idea to try. Why wouldn’t you see life as happy, light, exciting with this outlook and why wouldn’t you want to? In the past, I have had a hard time understanding people who see grays and drops of water where I see color and an abundant overflow.
Think back to the Amy Grant and Walkman me then fast forward to my second year of marriage. I am in an upper duplex with my husband and baby. It is Christmas morning. I am so excited to open my presents. My mom was always so good at presents, surely Chris will be too. Marriage = mind reading … right? Imagine my dismay when I open the box and see pots and pans. And tupperware bowls. We needed them, this is true, but as Christmas presents? Really?
The idea of Christmas and it’s magic began to change for me starting with that year, change can be good and this one was. I was being refined. Sanctified, learning the important lesson of looking past the presents to the people who were present. Life has a way of doing that to me, making my vision clearer, more focused on the important. And don’t you know when you focus on something everything else fades in the background.
My glasses are being adjusted again this year. My heart thrown into a refiners fire. My mom has cancer. There is a lump in my throat as I write this. Cancer. Such a foreign word that has become commonplace. Cancer and all it brings with it has burst the bubble that is normally Christmas for me. If past Christmas’ had me in the clouds this one has me colliding with the pavement. Reality is all too real and impossible to ignore. And in the midst of all of this I have been having a wrestling match with a word I defended and befriended in the past, but now it is an imposter.
The word? Hope.
Hebrews 11 reads, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Sure hope. I have spoken on it. I have written about it. I believe in a sure hope. A hope that is solid. One we can count on. This is all still true. But this year hope has a new meaning.
Hope // archaic // a feeling of trust.
This is what hope means for me this year. For me having hope right now is grasping by my fingertips onto a feeling of trust. Trust not in doctors or cures. But trust in the one who is not of this world and not held by its limitations and constraints. I am feebly grasping, clinging to trust in Jesus. The I am. The Savior. Creator God, the giver and sustainer of life. The Master Planner, the Redeemer, The Restorer. My Christmas bubble may have deflated but I am determined to not allow the enemy of my soul to convince me to give up hope. Hope that there is healing this side of heaven and sure hope that there is definitely healing and wholeness in our eternal home. The home where we are done being perfected because we see Him face to face and we then become like Him.
Hope and I have been at odds, but I think we are finding our footing again. The layers of our relationship have deepened. I have a sure hope in a forever life that will leave this broken painful one in the dust and I can cling to truth that the one I have put my trust in is faithful.
However you feel about Christmas this year whether the magic is abundant or the lights a little dimmer, will you sit back and realize that all that comes with Christmas is a poor foretaste of what is to come for those who put their hope in Jesus Christ. The very reason we celebrate Christmas is so that we can all leave this world behind and live the eternal, perfect life that is waiting for those who believe that Jesus who came as a baby died to make a way for us to be in right standing again with our God. The more we live and the more we experience, the less we should look to our current situations to fulfill us but the more our focus should be on what is to come, the party and adventure that awaits us when our sure hope and feeling of trust is fulfilled.
Steph is a mom to four girls and wife to one very supportive man. She is the Executive Director of Stories Foundation and is passionate about fighting for freedom both spiritual and physical. Her days consist of car pooling, ministry, parenting and lots of coffee.