The app Time Hop can be wonderful and heart breaking all at the same time. Many days, I open it and enjoy seeing memories captured from the years gone by, and some days I open it and my heart breaks just a little.
Today was one of the days that hurt my heart. This morning I saw memories of Christmases spent trying to fight for a relationship. I saw memories specifically of the year I went back to California for Christmas and stayed for 9 days. While I loved being back and having the time to see beloved friends and family, the reason I went was to try and help my family understand and accept my new relationship, and to fight to keep my family together as we struggled with rejection and unwillingness to embrace my new love.
This particular Christmas came on the heels of a painful summer and fall, and in my mind, I deeply hoped that by going back, those who couldn’t accept and celebrate my happiness would be moved to change when looking at me directly, seeing the joy, the love and the return of the light that had been gone for so long.
And so I showed up, endured hard conversations, and painful silence. I showed up to fight for myself, and to fight for vitally important relationships. And sadly, I came back to Texas forced to face the truth that I had failed.
Since that time, Kelli and I fell deeper in love, and got married (twice). We have built a home, and have surrounded ourselves with friends and family that love us, support us, cheer for us and celebrate us. For that, I am eternally grateful. Our life is wonderful and full of so much love and light.
However, this year, especially these days leading up to Christmas, I find myself sad- Missing the person who I love so dearly who can’t celebrate us- Who won’t accept us, and because of that, isn’t in our lives. I find myself angry at the ways fear and prejudice have taken hold of my family and caused division, hurt and brokenness. And as we approach the manger on Christmas Eve, I find myself still, maybe foolishly, hoping that things can change and be restored.
But what I have also come to recognize is that it is time for me to give up the fight. For years i have been fighting to keep everything together, putting myself out there to try and bring about reconciliation and restoration, but just as I am seeking to be loved for who I am, I have to confront the reality that it is time for me to accept this person for who they are. I have to give up fighting for what isn’t mine to win.
So, I am laying it down… Hoping and praying that the fight will continue in this person, that they will fight for themselves to overcome all that keeps us separated. That they will see that there is another way. I will continue hoping they will be led to love and acceptance, and that the Light coming into the world will illuminate the loneliness, fear and judgement that have taken hold in this persons heart, and maybe in the light, they will see that love and welcome are the easier way, and the way back to holidays spent together.
Until that day comes, I am holding on to the truth that a Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it. And this morning, on the other side of the darkest night, I am grateful for the ways that the world is beginning to usher light in, more and more, each day.
For those who walk in darkness this season, for those who are hurting, greiving, lonely, sick, in a time of transition, and especially those who are faced with rejection and separation from those you love dearly, know that you are loved. And the light in you helps illuminate the world in important and unique ways. You are not alone, and you are holy and whole just as you are. May you be surrounded by the light of those who love and celebrate you, and the places where you feel safe and at rest.
The Light is coming. May we all experience the hope, joy, peace and love that will come with it…and may the Light shine anew in each of our lives, restoring and reconciling what has been broken. You are loved.
Merry Christmas, y’all.