Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Peace
So I had a hard time at church this afternoon.

I pulled in to my sister's house at 1:40 with ten minutes to spare to change for their Catholic Christmas mass (I'm Lutheran, but I go to church with them because I want to be with my family). We get there and I have to walk in in the sleety rain with no umbrella and we parked way out.

Then, we get in the church and my nephew's father-in-law is ushering. He seats my sister and her husband in the pew with all the rest of my family - my nephew and his wife and their little guys, my niece's sister and her hubby and kids. There's no room for me.

Their pews are not squish friendly because they have barriers halfway down, so I get stuck back 2 rows on the opposite side of the church in the middle of strangers. After driving all morning to be there to be at church together, I am separated from my family by a gulf that felt so much more than physical.

The people in front and behind them had only 3 people in a pew built to accommodate four fannies. The people behind them said they were saving a spot for someone. Right. This person mysteriously never showed. In my opinion, it was completely rude. They clearly knew that we were family and just didn't give a crap.

Being across the aisle in the midst of strangers made me feel isolated, not cared about.... Silly maybe, but it brought home with Windex clarity the fact that I am alone in my world. I no longer have my mother to be my foil, my partner, my best friend and that grieves me to the soul. My sis tried to come sit with me but I wouldn't let her. She should be with her hubby and son, you know? I didn't want to split them up just so I'd be not alone. It would have felt really selfish to me and I would have had an attack of the guilts.

I couldn't help it - I started crying. I cried through the first half of the service. I knew Sis felt bad, but what could she do? It wasn't her fault. But there I sat on Christmas Eve, the most wondrous, joyous night, and all I could do was cry. I just sat realizing that I am completely ... superfluous. They were a complete family without me and I ... am not a family on my own.

It just hurt so much to recognize that.

When I told my dear friend Oregano (name changed to protect both the innocent and the horribly guilty - you'll have to figure out which one he is on your own) this later tonight, he responded, "Hon, you've got your own kind of family. We're your family."

Lord bless the man. He's right and I know it, but the family he speaks of is built from an online community of wonderful, loving people. Many of us have met in person and we are valuable to one another, certainly, but they are not HERE and it wouldn't disrupt their daily lives if I disappeared off the planet. I know if something happened to me they would mourn, but in very realistic terms, I am superfluous - peripheral, maybe - in the lives of everyone I know, online and in real life, including my own blood family. Not negligible, necessarily, but not intrinsic.

I did try to put my big-girl panties on and deal with it, and I mostly did because I reminded myself that the purpose of being in church is NOT being together with my family, but rather worshiping the God I love and serve and glorifying His name. Thus, I shook it off for a while, until I came home and started recounting the tale to Oregano this evening and then I cried through my mascara for the second time today. (Memo to me - buy waterproof mascara.) I kept telling myself earlier - it's NOT all about me. There are plenty of lonelier people in the world, and plenty of people who can't even visit a church on Christmas because Christianity is illegal in their lands. But there I sat revisiting the awful feelings I had in the church.

Sometimes just saying or writing things makes all the difference - sharing that awful feeling inside. It makes me feel so much less alone.

Oregano told me to "keep smiling." Right. Can't always smile on the outside when it's not true to the inside, you know?

And then it spilled over afresh, and the tears came anew and I realized I wasn't over it. I was bruised and lonely and hurting, and that's NOT trivial and I had no need to feel embarrassed, even though I did this afternoon. But it washed over me in a great wave and without thinking, for once in my life I did the right thing.

I looked up and said "I have to take this to You, Lord, 'cuz ain't nobody else can fix it. No one 'cept You." And then came the peace. The peace that passes all understanding. It was there and it filled me. And even if I cry with grief for my mother, I don't have to cry for my own loneliness. I am loved by the Lover of my Soul, my Father and Creator. And on this wonderful, beautiful, sad, joyous, sparkling Christmas, that is all I need.

I pray that each of you receives all the miraculous blessings of this holy season.

1 comment:

Babydocwhit said...

Diva, I just followed the link to your blog after 24 tonight, and read your post. I wanted to leave a comment because it really resonated with me. Christmas seems so much more difficult each year. It seems like the more perfect a moment is "supposed to be" in my mind, the more I'm reminded of it's imperfection! I've been reflecting on this as the holidays seem to fill me more with grief lately than with joy. We gather together with our loved ones, and fight the battles of where to be and with whom, and decorate our homes with pretty things, and it just falls short. Maybe that's really what God wanted us to experience this Christmas; the brokenness and fallenness of our world. Then we can truly start to grasp what it means that He came to make things right. Maybe that sadness was His gift to us this Christmas. Maybe.
"See you" tomorrow night!
Whitney Morgan
aka "Babydocwhit"