Christmas greeting season has arrived. I enjoy it because it’s the only time of year we actually receive gobs of mail other than those pesky things saying we owe money to some company or utility somewhere. As much as I have loved connecting with old friends on Facebook, IM-ing and emailing, I miss getting letters in the mail—something tangible to hold. Of course, I don’t write letters anymore either, except for the Christmas one.
We got into the Christmas letter writing biz quite a few years ago. The first one was filled with silly and what we thought were obvious lies. It came about as a response to work I had done that day at the print shop where I worked. I had to put together somebody’s Christmas post card filled with brag after brag after boastful brag, backed up with photos including the family on their very own yacht in foreign places. Oh, how I loathed that family, whoever they were, with all their money and perfect kids with super-duper grades at really smart people schools, degrees earned and big-time job offers. Don’t get me wrong, I would totally do the same thing if I had all those things going on, but still I mocked them mightily—and so began our letter writing tradition.
We didn’t lie after the first year, but we did, as is the way, write about the year’s highlights. I felt a little nervous about sending out such a letter because I wasn’t sure if anyone cared and I certainly didn’t want to be mocked. However, I received comments from folks that seemed genuine and unforced in their accolades, so I kept it up because of the outpouring of demand.
Somewhere along the way, I felt the need to hint that some things didn’t work out so well in our lives during the year. I know, possibly awkward for a Christmas letter where all should be light and airy, but I didn’t want anyone to think they weren’t all that because our life was sounding so happily awesome. I also got brave and started to mix in a message of encouragement about God’s great love. It is Christmas after all.
But last year, I didn’t write a letter. I was exhausted. I had survived two of the worst years of my life and had nothing left in me. No fun comments, no silliness, no brags. I couldn’t fake it and I didn’t want to subject others to any possible bitterness that might have leaked through. There was no way I could even try to encourage anyone that God is real and loves them when I was hanging by a thread to believe it myself.
Something changed this year. Despite this year’s difficulties, something has been very slowly changing in me. I’ve believed all along that God loves me. Of course He does. That’s who He is. Love. Right? But the question that kept echoing within me was, does He LOVE … me? Really?
The questions I started to ask out loud to Him began to be answered in such quiet ways that I almost missed them. His love for me stopped being just something I had to believe because that’s what I believe, but somehow started becoming much more real to me. Then a light came on and the real question I had to ask became clear, I now see, despite life circumstances, that You really do love me, but how do I let You love me? How do I LET You love me? How can I accept that kind of Love? And how in the world do I/should I/can I love You back?
He has told us, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3) My prayer has become that I would learn to let Him love me as much as He says He does. It is also my prayer for you.
By the way, I did brag on my kids a bit in this year’s letter, but I kinda figured I really deserved a moment to share something fun for us.