We’ve had more snow around here this winter than is normal for our little coastal community. Granted, it’s still not that much snow but we’ve been enjoying it nonetheless.
Every time it’s started to snow, I’ve bundled Pearl into her snow suit so we can go out and enjoy it as much as possible. Around here, you never know how long the snow is going to stick around.
We are in the final countdown to Christmas now and getting more and more excited. Pearl doesn’t really know yet what’s coming but she loves the lights and the fact that there’s a tree in our house and I can’t wait to see her face Christmas morning.
Christmas feels a little different this year. As thankful as I am and as much as I have to look forward to, there is a sadness. It has been a hard year. This last season has been really hard in our little house. Every day I can’t help but think about where I should be by now in my pregnancy and every day I grieve the loss of our little boy. Some days I feel surrounded by pregnancy announcements and friends excitedly waiting for their little ones. And I’m happy for them because I love them and I love their babies but it’s really hard too and I wish my happiness for them wasn’t also tinged with jealousy.
And so, when I’m struggling with those feelings, it’s easy to look at the Christmas story as yet another story about a woman who can have a baby when I can’t. And yes, I know, it’s ridiculous to be jealous of Mary – a virgin who unexpectedly becomes pregnant with her own Saviour – but for someone who has had two out of three very planned, very desired pregnancies end in loss, I envy those who can get pregnant so easily.
I’ve found myself skipping forward to the story of Elizabeth. Elizabeth is a woman I can sympathize with right now. A woman who probably spent years trying, unsuccessfully, to have a baby. A woman who had probably long ago given up hope. Or maybe a woman who held on, silently, secretly, to a ridiculous hope for her longed-for baby. A woman whose husband was so shocked by the news that she would have a child that the angel Gabriel literally had to shut him up. That’s a story I understand.
This year, too, I’ve been thinking about the Christmas story itself a little differently. We like to focus on the starlight, the lambs, the newborn baby. Those things are all important and beautiful but it’s not the whole story. Some focus on the reality of what it must have been like to give birth in a stable, far from home. The stink of it. The fear. How helpless Mary might have felt to be given such a responsibility when she couldn’t even find a room in which to deliver her son.
At Christmas we celebrate the arrival of Christ. That’s a good and wondrous thing to celebrate and we should probably celebrate it more. But this year I’ve been wondering what that moment was like for God. To send His son into our sinful, filthy world as a helpless baby. To send Him to grow up, to suffer, to die. This year, God is whispering in my ear, I, too, have lost a son.
There is no path I can trod that my God has not walked. There is no road I can take that my God does not walk with me. That is part of the Christmas story. It’s beautiful, yes, but it’s messy and it’s painful and death is part of it. The really beautiful part is that the story doesn’t end on Christmas Day and it doesn’t end with death.
I don’t really know what it means that I will meet my baby one day in Heaven. I don’t know what that looks like – what he’ll look like – and so I don’t find that much comfort there. What I find comfort in is knowing that the Lord embraces those who mourn. I find comfort in knowing that He holds my baby – all my babies – in the palm of His hand. That He holds me there too.
I know this is not the most uplifting Christmas post but Christmas is still Christmas even in the midst of grief. God is still good.