Sorry for the silence here. I know some of you check almost daily and I really appreciate your faithfulness. I have so much to say, but I've been so busy with school and shopping and Christmas stuff that I haven't had any time to write. But I thought I'd take a quick moment to just give an update.
First off, I'm still singing the Mind
Algebraic ---well, really it's the Mind Mathematics/Quantitative Literacy. I've worked on basic mathematics concepts, algebra, trigonometry, critical thinking... right now I'm working on geometry, and in the next week or so I'll start statistics. My frustration with it waxes and wanes with the level of complexity and difficulty -- which is usually toward the end of the chapters. I am just not a naturally left-brained person. Though I am learning to adjust and think that way, ever so sllooooowly. The most exciting part has been realizing I really can do it. Trig is my favorite so far. I really like all the triangle puzzle stuff. I don't know why you would want to know or care about all that, but it can be fun stuff to chew on...... ohmigosh, I didn't just say that, did I?? I didn't just say I'm actually enjoying a part of math! What is happening to me. It must be the Christmas season infecting me.
Speaking of, I stated in an earlier post that this is the first time in many years that I've actually been excited to celebrate Christmas and I realized recently I didn't fully explain. I won't go into great detail here, most of you know the hell I went through a few years back anyway. The holidays have been painful ever since. And, truthfully, my first (and only for a while) Christmas overseas was also difficult, but not as much so as the four years that followed. Those four years I didn't decorate my home, didn't get a Tree, even listening to Christmas music was painful -- to say nothing of seeing the decorations, shopping for gifts in decked-out malls or unwittingly catching a holiday movie on television. I avoided them like the plague; "It's a Wonderful Life" was the worst. Can you imagine trying to avoid seeing that during the Christmas season? Yeah, impossible. But it was just too painful to see people living out a happily-ever-after ending when I felt so completely that I would never have that.
I think the holidays are harder to survive for single people after the deaths of parents than it is for those who are married and have a family of their own. You really do feel like an orphan with no parents and no home to "go home" to; as well as feeling like a fifth-wheel at the family celebrations of siblings. Fortunately I have an amazing sister who welcomed me with open arms and made me feel not only welcome but truly wanted. I rarely feel like a fifth wheel there.
I think the break-through I had at Easter had ripple effects far wider than I thought. Because as the holidays approached this year I began to feel excitement instead of depression. And that has just grown and even exploded at times. I'm truly enjoying and savoring every moment of this Christmas season. It's just been amazing. And I realized recently that I have emerged from this time of pain and sadness with a totally different perspective, and a new paradigm.
From Childhood on, Christmas for me was about the lights and the decorations, the Christmas programs (school and church) and caroling, the music, the family gatherings, the parties and the blustery chill of a Southern California December. I have a storehouse full of wonderful memories of this time of year. But it was mostly about the season; about the American version of Christmas rather than the deeper reality of what it is we are celebrating. Oh, I knew about Bethlehem and baby Jesus and all that. And it wasn't that I didn't acknowledge that or spend time meditating and thanking God for His gift. I did, but never on such a profound level.
This year I connected with that Truth, that reality of who Jesus is and the sacrifice He made for me, on a profoundly deep and intimate level and it has radically changed who I am and how I see life. Christmas for me now is about celebrating the birth of the most amazing Gift God ever gave me; the gift of Abundant Life in Jesus. The rest of it -- lights, music, movies, smells, etc -- is just delicious icing. I am humbled beyond words that He, the Almighty, Most Holy, One True Living God would love me so much that He would willingly lay aside all His glory and majesty and become a little helpless human baby, and subject Himself to all the pain and crap we humans put upon each other. He didn't have to do that. He is the Creator of the universe; He could have created a different way of salvation. But He didn't. He chose the hard way. And we get to give each other gifts, race with other mall patrons for parking spaces, and fight with other shoppers for that last Nintendo Wii all because of His all-consuming love for us. I am in awe at the unfailing, unending generosity and grace of God.
I am so blessed. I have so much in the way of physical and monetary provision that many around the world do not have. But even if God allows all of that to be taken from me, I will still be incredibly blessed. I know Love and Abundant Life -- I dwell within them! I wake every morning to my Redeemer, my Beloved singing to me and I fall asleep every night to His whispers of His love, protection and grace. I have been forgiven for things I never thought were forgivable and I have found my meaning and purpose in simply living every moment intimately connected to God.
This is what I celebrate this Christmas. This is what compels me to gift a gift, to decorate my home and my cube at work, to sing Christmas songs, drive around the mall till a parking spot opens up, and watch endless rounds of "It's a Wonderful Life" and cry with sympathetic pain, and abiding joy every single time. God is good. God. Is. Good. And I am blessed beyond measure!
Happy Christmas everyone. May your Christmas be filled with the most profound Joy and abiding Peace you have every known. And may you see Jesus in a new, more intimate way.