Christmas for the Brokenhearted

Pine cone on a tree
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
~Psalm 34:18NLT

It starts around Thanksgiving.

A low-grade hum of sorrow quietly, yet steadily envelopes my thoughts and emotions. I think being alone at Thanksgiving triggers it. Too many turkey dinners eaten in the corner of a restaurant while families laugh, talk, and reminisce a few feet away. I’m also one of those who are affected by the seasons. Even in Southern California, my mood dampens with the shorter days and lack of sunlight.

“December is coming,” I whisper to myself.

And with it the memories…

And with it the memories…

December is a month of loss for me.

My sister, Lanthe, succumbed to a year-long infection in her back on December 14th, 2009 at the age of 42. I can still see my dad flinching in sorrow as I told him she’d died. My only consolation in her death – and praise God, it’s a big one – is that during her illness, Lanthe came to know Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

My dad, L.C., passed away in an assisted living center on December 6, 2017 at the age of 88.  I remember hearing the still, small voice of Father God gently urging me to go to him that morning. I drove through the traffic knowing in my heart that I was about to see him for the last time on this side of heaven.

 I made it in time to hold his hand until he took his last breath. The night before I told him that I loved him –that he had been a wonderful father. So, I wasn’t saying goodbye. With joy, I would see my dad again. But, oh, it hurt to let him go…even for a little while.

I was born on December 17, 1965. Eight days before Christmas. My first present was a Christmas tree that my dad picked out for me. When I was a girl, I had mixed feelings about my birthday being so close to Christmas. I loved the idea of being a Christmas gift for my parents. But the excitement of having my own special day never seemed to live up to my expectations. Neither did Christmas.

And now Christmas is coming.

I am the last of my nuclear family. I’m 57 years old. I’ve never been married and have no children. For much of the past two years, I’ve been virtually homeless –bouncing around from hotels to a friend’s couch to someone’s garage – even spending several nights in my car. All this took place just after I graduated college and as I launched two books.

I wish I could say that I’ve trusted God without fail. That I haven’t been angry or disappointed in Him or doubted His love and care for me. There’ve been times when I wondered if God wanted me to survive my trials. Maybe that’s why He hasn’t found me a place to live or provided for me financially. Or blessed me with a husband. He’s going to take my home to heaven. Oh, the thoughts that run rampant when we listen to the lies of the enemy instead of the truth of God’s Word.

Let me give you some truth: God has been with me. He has never forsaken me, never left me. I can’t tell you how many times He prompted someone from my church or work to give me money. Or a gift card. Or groceries. Or clothes. Members of my small group allowed me to stay in their homes or paid for me to stay with friends. Not only did they sustain me physically, but they covered me in prayer.

My car was totaled last year. God turned it for good by bringing a settlement that gave me enough money to buy a used car and rent a room. It happened just before last Christmas, and right before an unusual winter of rain and cold struck Los Angeles.

God also opened the door for me to teach again at my former Christian school. First, I subbed short term. A teacher went on maternity leave. I took her class for six weeks. Then I worked eight weeks of summer school. Two weeks before the new school year, a teacher unexpectedly left for a new job, and I became a first-grade teacher again.

Recently, I moved into a small studio tucked between two auto body shops. It’s a few miles from my work. My boss owns the property and allows me to rent at minimal cost. Christmas will probably be spent there. I’m okay with that. Decades of walking with Father God keep me moving forward when I want to quit –

“for whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you?”
~Psalm 73:25 NIV

Only God knows what this Christmas will hold for you and me. But I believe the One who knows our end from the beginning will prove Himself loving and faithful. He will gently hold our broken hearts in His hands and bind up our wounds.

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