When the people over at High Calling
asked their network participants to share a "Christmas past" story, I thought, "Uhhh.... you don't want to hear mine." Because my old stories pretty much have the same punch line: scars.
There are single moments that stand out. Moments of courage, like when I spent two hours in the dead of night, crawling on my little kid belly to retrieve my stocking, holding my breath, so as not to waken my stepfather from his sugar plum dreams. He lay on the cot in front of the Christmas tree, breathing, shifting, snoring. The cot was a yearly ritual. Kind of like the star on the Christmas tree, but a bit more ominous, as it was always the climax of a shouting spree... his carol to welcome the season.
One Christmas brought a shameful gift in my stocking... a present from my stepfather, given in front of the whole family, simply to humiliate me. The gift delivered its intended impact
There's the general blur of Christmas after Christmas when we were assailed with insults, curse words, and threats for celebrating the birth of Christ. A stupid celebration, in my stepfather's opinion. I have this picture of my mother, her bottom lip stuck out in something akin to a pout. But I realize now she was probably trying not to cry, trying not to ruin the joy we mustered despite all the bah humbug.
To this day, I bear the scars of these Christmas pasts. Indeed, I literally bear a permanent scar in my left pinky. I crushed it once, trying to help my mom close the cot. She always closed it during the day when my stepfather went out hunting, or drinking, or whatever he'd gone out to do. Even as recently as this week, I couldn't sleep, for the sharp pain in that pinky kept stabbing me out of my dreams.
Last Sunday, we were singing "From Heav'n You Came". And around verse three, I suddenly lost my voice. "Come see His hands and his feet," it says. "The scars that speak of sacrifice. Hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails surrendered."
It is so easy to let the scars of a difficult past define us. Make us needy. Angry. Selfish. Afraid to sacrifice. I don't fault myself or anyone else for this. Scars will always point to the pain that created them. Still, in the middle of that Sunday song, I thought, "If these are the only scars we bear, then we've allowed ourselves to remain the victims."
So this season, I want to choose my scars. Jesus scars. That heal the past, and embrace an outward life of sacrifice. Thinking this way, well, call it the star He's just now flung on my Christmas tree.
"Lantern" art by Gail Nadeau
. Used by permission. Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.
L.L.'s Festive Gifts and Meal
. A post on a brighter note.
Labels: Christmas, family stories, healing, Stone Crossings