Let me tell you a story about this day, last year…
Christmas day, last year, I sat crying in a corner of my aunt’s bathroom. I smashed myself up against the corner of her armoire, where the furniture met my body and the hard wall. After balling on the toilet, I managed to walk a few spaces, slink onto the carpet, and collapse into sobs. The audible sounds of my cousins’ and family’s mirth and joy playing games outside only served to mock and heighten my own sorrow and dejection. I refused to take part, I refused to go outside the room, I refused to be consoled. I accepted the offer of a blanket, and a nap on my aunt’s bed.
I was bitterly lonely, tirelessly hopeless, beaten down, despairing of the future, and heartbroken beyond words. I was sure many more Christmases awaited me as the awkward single member of the family, always awaiting the many questions about my (non)existent, or painful, dating life, one that seemed to birth only trouble and heartache, if it birthed anything beyond barren dreams.
Somewhere, though, in the midst of those tears, a tweet vibrated on my phone. A young man saw my sorrow on twitter, and sent out a white flag of friendly concern. A mere acknowledgement of my pain, and a simple wish for me to have a Merry Christmas.
Now, let me tell you a story about Christmas today, this year…
I sit on my bed, a little sick from the appetizers, and meals, and desserts of 4 Christmases enjoyed in the last 24 hours, and double the gifts, memories, and love than I’ve ever experienced in a Christmas before. The reflections of last night’s Christmas Eve with my fiancé’s family are still as warm and peaceful as the night itself. This morning’s fire and coffee and wrapping paper frenzy with him and my family is as clear as last minute. And this afternoon and evening shared with old and new aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, and grandparents provides sounds and voices still ringing jubilantly in my ears. I played games, and I watched the light dance in and out of the diamonds on my left hand, and I rooted for the Applegates, of whom I now count myself one, and I kissed a man I will call husband in 3 months and 5 days.
I am blissfully content, dreamily hopeful, refreshed, expectant of good years to come, and thankfully happy beyond measure. There are no more single Christmases for me. No more silent prayers in the night that it be my last holiday season alone. I answer questions now about my wedding on March 30, and, to be honest, on most days, it still feels unreal.
And that certain young man who tweeted at me last year? Well, he’s sitting beside me. And, I’m whispering to him, “You fell in love with a broken girl.” And he’s whispering back, “We’re all broken. It’s just that, together, we’re less broken now.”
And I catch my breath, and I thank God for him. And I thank Him for hearing my anguished cries last Christmas, and for answering the prayers I’d knocked down heaven’s doors with for years. And I know this is His best earthly gift to me, the man I will love and cherish for the rest of this life, til death do us part.
And so now, let me tell you just one more story about this day, many, many, some two thousand years ago.
Christmas Day, some millennium ago, a woman cried, writhing in pain, and a baby howled, drawing it’s first breath, and a first time father heaved a prayerful sigh of relief, and also overwhelming exhaustion, and Messiah was born. And the prayers of an entire people since the dawn of time were answered in that night. The world was broken, spattered in war and smothered in evil, sickly, twisted, and with nothing but silent promises from old tablets to measure any kind of hope by. And God gave them a Man, the Man that is Him. And He came down to join us in the filth, and to walk beside us in the weeping, and to love us in the grimness of the dying, and decaying. And to rise victoriously not just from a women’s womb, but from a rich man’s tomb, and to give us wholeness, and healing, hope and joy, peace and shalom.
You see, this year for Christmas, God gave me a man to love me and protect me and hold me these next (I hope) 50+ years. But God already gave me, and the world, a Man, so many Christmases ago. A Man to teach my man to love me and protect me and hold me. A Man who will not leave me, even after death. A Man who will take me beyond the four walls of this home, or this earth, but into glory. A Man who doesn’t just make me less broken together with Him, but who makes me Whole entirely because of Him.
Last Christmas, and this Christmas, and for all the Christmases to come, and to the ones when I am sitting by His new throne, on the new earth, God gave me Himself.
Out of all the gifts I got this last Christmas, and in probably all the years past, Zachary will always be the best. But, you see, he is just an earthly reminder, that Christmas has always been about God, giving us, a Man.