Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tender Hearts and Christmas Promises

I get this weird sort of heartache on occasion, as if my sometimes-piercing compassion turns in on itself. I'm going to admit publicly that I came home from our festive church services Sunday and cried my little heart out, after seeing women I've repeatedly (and probably selfishly) aspired to befriend exchange little gifts with each other.

I didn't GO to church expecting gifts or goodies, I went with a prayer in my heart for some very specific people, actually. There are sisters that haven't made it in a long time that I was really hoping would come for Christmas; disappointingly, of the 5 or so I was really sending up prayers for, only one made it. (An eighty-year-old biddy who, as S. puts it, has 'lost her filter'. She tells me she should be allowed to feed the missionaries even though there's no male around to help host, because she 'promises not to rape them'. Though she's really great, I'm getting tired of that joke, plus I'm not entirely sure she means it as a joke...)

I always feel torn, and struggle to push away this odd kind of depression, because I know I'm truly blessed and loved mightily. I got holiday hugs from a friend's sister-in-law who was visiting, for goodness' sake, so I feel guilty wishing I were in the popular group. There are so many who are further out on the fringes than I am, and I know I wouldn't really be happier trying to fit in with the cool crowd; but it still stings when people come up with repeated reasons that they would 'love' my children to have playdates with theirs, but not 'this time'. Sadness still lingers on my kids' behalf when years ago, my son wasn't included in an informal science group two friends were running that we had asked about participating in, and my daughter had a church classmatmake fun of her dress. Why are these things so hard to overcome and let go of when it's the season of goodwill?

Talking with my husband, trying to regain the cheerful holiday feelings I've actually managed to have for the first Christmas season in a long while, he commented that he was glad I've kept my heart tender through the years. Truthfully, I am too. Not only does it allow me to be more aware of thoswho need service, but the true balm of the gospel becomes all the more sweet and precious to me.

One of my favorite Christmas carols is 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel', because it expresses that poignant longing for a betteworld through the promised Savior:
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

My Christmas testimony is that Heavenly Father’s promises are fulfilled.  The birth of Christ was the ultimate promise, told to prophets and peoples throughout the ages, and hoped for by the most pure in heart.  The faith we placed in the Father’s plan before we were born hinged on the birth of Christ and his willingness to live a life of holiness.  “And now behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven.” (2 Nephi 31:21)  

At Christmastime I remember and know that if God fulfilled this promise, central to it all, then he will still keep his promises to me as well.  I trust in him, and hope “that [I] may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that [I] may become the [daughter] of God; that when he shall appear [I] shall be like him, for [I] shall see him as he is.” (Moroni 7:48)

In between all the traffic and travels and cookies and wrappings, I hope (for all of us!) that there is a little room left for quiet reverence at the foot of the manger.

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